Childrearing

Nine-Year-Old Princess Elisabeth Of Belgium Should Be Your Daughter’s Role Model

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She may be around the same age as your little one, but Princess Elisabeth has revealed herself to quite the remarkable little girl. Unlike most young girls who snag our headlines, Princess Elisabeth has not appeared in a highly sexualized pictorial, nor is she in the spotlight for getting cosmetic surgery. This nine-year-old gave a speech to a room full of  adults at the opening of a new children’s hospital named after her.

Princess Elisabeth took to the podium in a very age appropriate dress, welcoming her guests with the following opening — in Dutch:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very happy that I can give my name to this new children’s hospital today. Together with you, I hope that many children will find help here. I know they can count on your daily commitment. The Princess Elisabeth Children’s Hospital now gets a special place in my heart.”

This was the little princess’s first speech and she was no doubt assisted by adults in her presentation. But in a culture where little girls are constantly being told that they aren’t smart enough to do basic math, are only valued if they’re skinny, and in some places in the world, considered worthless burdens on their families, girls like Princess Elisabeth rarely get mentioned. While all of the aforementioned issues are always important topics for discussion, it’s worth taking note of a young girl who isn’t in the news for an eating disorder but rather for being smart, eloquent, and poised.

Princess Elisabeth with her parents, Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde.

(photo: wsj.com and examiner.com)

7 Comments

  1. Becky

    September 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Why should she be a role model? She’s got her position through an accident of birth alone? Shouldn’t you want your children to have a role model who has got where they are through hard work?

  2. Jenny

    September 14, 2011 at 5:55 am

    Role model for appearing like a 9 year old? Maybe. But do we need any more reinforcement that girls should be ‘princesses’ and all that entails? It’s one thing for Princess Elizabeth who (in a patriarchal system) is actually a Princess, but her status would likely fuel Disney and other Princess-Promoting corporations with profits to make at the expense of learned, heterosexually-normative gender roles for little girls.

  3. Leigha

    September 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    In all reality, everyone got where they are through an accident of birth. Abraham Lincoln would never have been president of the United States had he been born in Saudi Arabia. Madam Curie would never have made the scientific discoveries she is famous for had she been born in 1431. People are born into a specific place at a specific time, and who is to say what would have happened if one or both of those were different?

    There are two kinds of royalty. There is the romanticized idea of royalty that many younger girls are fond of, princesses who wear ball gowns and dance with princes and have no responsibilities whatsoever. Then there are the actual royals, the ones who are (or were, a few decades ago) in charge of governing an entire country, with even more power and responsibility than that of our President. So they weren’t elected, so what? We still remember them for what they DID with their power. No one talks about some king who was born, crowned, sat, and died, they talk about one who defended and reformed his country, ultimately changing it’s entire structure (or Henry VIII, who just wanted a divorce and a son, but ended up creating an entire religion, with all the consequences that went along with that). Was what they did good? Maybe, maybe not. Many made what we would consider very cruel or unjust choices. But they had, to us, unimaginable power. That’s to be expected, no matter what their intentions may have been.

    As for this girl in particular, she is a modern princess, in a world where royals have relatively limited influence and responsibility but are still held up as symbols for the nation. This means that, for the rest of her life, she will be expected to be nothing less than a sort of ambassador, a representative of her country and what people there ought to be like (consider, for comparison, what people would have thought if the newly married Prince William had spend his US tour getting drunk and gambling away thousands). At 9, she is already in the public spotlight and expected to be more well-behaved than the average child that age. Does this alone make her worthy of being a role model? Not really, but it’s an important consideration.

    Does making a speech dedicating a children’s hospital make her a good role model? Perhaps. Did she have any role in the hospital itself (there are hospitals here that were inspired or partially funded by young children), or is it just named for her? If the first, then she is absolutely worthy of being a role model, as is any young child who goes out of their way to help others, and not just a role model for other children, but adults as well. If she has nothing to do with it besides the name, then maybe not, but she can still be looked up to for displaying poise and grace and being confident and articulate, all admirable qualities and not ones often seen in children that young.

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