BRUSSELS – Queen Mathilde of Belgium arrived on Tuesday to the International Conference on Ebola sitting in a wheelchair after appearing in public a few days ago on crutches, following a skiing accident.
Almost all local press echoed the surprise caused by the Queen entering, in a wheelchair, the Palais d’Egmont, where the offices of the Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister are located and the setting of the conference.
Several newspapers said that this event might raise some “concern,” although the Queen has not neglected the official agenda in recent days, despite the accident that damaged her left knee.
Queen Mathilde paid visits last week to the EU institutions, with the aid of her crutches, and leaned on the arm of her husband, King Philippe of Belgium, to take a photo with the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.
According to online reports by Le Soir newspaper, Mathilde cannot put strain her left leg, as she must take care of her injured left knee following the skiing mishap.
An expert in royal affairs told the same newspaper that the Queen is using her wheelchair solely for long distances, as is the case in the halls of the Palais d’Egmont.
A spokesman for the Belgian Royal Palace told the Francophone RTL television channel that the Queen should slow her pace, and this is the current objective which will last for one month; as for crutches, she only uses them when necessary such as taking official photographs.
The Queen used crutches partially on Tuesday to get around the hall where the conference was being held, and where she delivered a speech, along with other prominent figures, about the indispensability of implementing every possible measure to get contain the spread of Ebola.
The conference was also attended by the presidents of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Republic of the Congo, in addition to ministers and representatives of the governments of the EU, and delegates from the U.S., Cuba and other nations involved in the fight against the disease.
Additionally, representatives from the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, NGOs and other research institutes also attended the conference.