On August 6, 1993, the Belgian government appointed Prince Philippe Honorary Chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board (BFTB). In this capacity, Prince Philippe has headed more than forty important economic missions throughout the world. In 1994, he entered the Belgian Senate, as senator by right (a privilege of the royal princes). In 1997, he became honorary chairman of the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development. In 2003, he assumed leadership of the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries. Since 2004, he also heads the European Chapter of the International Polar Foundation.
On December 4, 1999, Prince Philippe married the lovely and elegant Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz, a young noblewoman of mixed Belgian and Polish descent. Princess Mathilde, a speech therapist by profession, is popular and warm, definitely in the tradition of beautiful and altruistic Belgian royal consorts . The couple have four children: Elisabeth (b. 2001), Gabriel (b. 2003), Emmanuel (b. 2005), and Eleonore (b. 2008). It seems to be a very happy family.
Prince Philippe is keenly concerned with the problems of modern society, and takes a special interest in poverty, unemployment, youth and education. Belgium's national unity is also close to his heart. In 1998, the Prince Philippe Fund was established to foster exchange and promote understanding between the country's three ethnolinguistic communities (French, Dutch, and German-speaking).
In recent years, the Prince has been attacked in the media. His conservative political and social views are criticized, with some even suggesting a more liberal candidate should take the throne. Others claim the Prince is stiff and awkward. In my opinion, however, his conservatism is a good thing and if his supposed "stiffness" (more likely old-fashioned formality and rigor) is all his detractors can accuse him of, his people are lucky. Belgium ought to be grateful to have such a serious, dedicated, and upright royal heir.