Princess Elisabeth of Belgium wields gun at military academy

Action girl! Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, 18, is unrecognisable in camouflage and wielding a gun during her first few weeks training at ‘tough’ military academy after attending boarding school in Wales

  • Princess Elisabeth, 18, has started studies at Brussels Royal Military Academy
  • In photos from first few weeks, royal dressed in army uniform and wields a gun  
  • A student previously said the Princess Elisabeth was in for a tough life at school
  • In her first months she’ll learn to shoot a gun, tactical training and reading maps
  • Evelyn Gravez, 22, who has almost completed degree, said making friends is key 

Belgium’s heir to the throne Princess Elisabeth appears unrecognisable in a camouflage uniform and wielding a gun during her first few weeks training at a ‘tough’ military academy.

The young royal, 18, who was previously studying at UWC Atlantic College in Wales, joined the army earlier this month in a move which hit the headlines in her homeland. 

Princess Elisabeth appeared almost unrecognisable in snaps released of her first weeks at the military academy, as she donned a camouflage uniform and carried a huge rifle for shooting practice. 

In other pictures, the pampered royal could be seen taking on tough exercise regimes, sprinting through fields and crawling across the muddy ground. 


Belgium’s heir to the throne Princess Elisabeth, 18, can be seen donning an army uniform while wielding a gun in photographs released of her first weeks at the country’s Royal Military Academy

In the photographs, which were released this week, the normally pampered royal could be seen undergoing initiation training at the army camp

The royal could be seen donning her camouflage uniform and a dark face mask during a training regime at the camp

The teenager has joined a host of other young recruits at the military academy, which a former student said was ‘tough’ earlier this summer 

In photographs released this week, the youngster could be seen marching alongside other recruits as they prepared for exercises and workshops at the military academy.

In another snap, she took to the floor in a plank as part in an initiation exercise in the pitch dark.

She could also be seen taking on shooting practice, and passing out food supplies to her fellow students.

Meanwhile the youngster was also photographed in the classroom at the academy, where it is believed she will learn skills including map reading.  

The heir to the throne could be seen taking part in target practice during her training at the army camp 

One of the essential skills she will learn at the military academy is target practice, with the young royal donning goggles for the exercise 


Princess Elisabeth wore a black face covering while studying in a classroom (left), and could be seen sprinting across a field in another exercise (right) 

In snaps from an exercise regime, a determined Princess Elisabeth could be seen crawling through muddy grass 

When the news hit the headlines, one of the training school’s students has offered insight into the course and some sage words of advice ahead of Elisabeth’s enrollment. 

Evelyn Gravez, 22, has almost completed her master’s degree in social and military Sciences at the school.

She told local media: ‘My advice? Above all, make as many friends as possible. They’ll help you through if you’re having a hard time.’

Speaking about what life will be like for the teenage princess, Evelyn revealed her first weeks will include learning to fire a gun, setting up an army tent, marching with a backpack, tactical training and reading maps.

In another photograph, the royal wore a bandanna style face covering pulled up to her eyes as she took part in a training exercise 

A former student previously revealed the royal’s first weeks would include learning to fire a gun, setting up an army tent, marching with a backpack, tactical training and reading maps

The royal appeared unrecognisable as she joined a line-up alongside other recruits at the army camp in Butgenbach

She added that the experience is ‘pretty tough’ and that ‘they really throw you in’.

She also warned that the initiation period is not for everyone and that a number of students drop out each year.

However, Ms Gravez added that the camp is not like the cliches of military school often seen in Hollywood movies.

She added: ‘They don’t yell at you when you make mistakes. Of course, sometimes they have to be strict.  

Princess Elisabeth appeared relaxed in the photographs from her first few weeks at the military academy, which her father also attended 


She wore facial camouflage while taking part in an exercise in a forest (right), and showed off her uniform during a line-up at the academy (left)

‘Because mistakes, they have to be sorted out as quickly as possible. But if you are a bit slow to learn, they are there to encourage you, not to bark at you.’ 

Although there will be tough days ahead, the student believes that the princess will get used to it and that it might even help her lead the country in the future.

She added: ‘I think Elisabeth will certainly get used to it. Even if she only stays one year. 

A former student previously warned that the experience at the school was ‘pretty tough’ for young recruits like Princess Elisabeth


The heir-to-the-throne appeared discreet as she swept her long blonde locks into a tidy bun and could be seen wearing a multitude of face masks during her first weeks of training

‘We learn to make decisions under stress, leadership techniques. That will be useful for her as head of state.’

Elisabeth is the heir apparent to the Belgian throne – the eldest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde. 

A change in the law a decade ago made it possible for the eldest child, male or female, to ascend the throne in the country.

The Princess, who will become Belgium’s first Queen when her father abdicates, is following into King Phillipe’s footsteps. He attended the school from 1978 to 1981. Pictured with King Philippe on her 18th birthday last October

She will become the country’s first Queen Regent if she takes up the role.

How Elisabeth will become Belgium’s first queen by birth

On turning 18, Princess Elisabeth  became legally old enough to rule without a substitute regent being appointed.

It means Elisabeth is now eligible to become queen on the death of her father, although given he is in good health and aged just 60 that is not expected to be soon. 

When she does ascend the throne, Elisabeth will become the first ever Queen of Belgium by birth. 

On its foundation in 1830, the Belgian constitution stipulated that accession to the throne was reserved for the descendants of Leopold I by order of primogeniture ‘to the perpetual exclusion of women’.

But the Salic law was abolished in 1991.

Elisabeth’s great-uncle Baudouin was on the throne at the time. 

Her grandfather Albert II was King from Baudouin’s death in 1993 until he abdicated in favour of his son King Philippe, Elisabeth’s father, in 2003. 

Elisabeth spent 18 months boarding at UWC Atlantic College in South Wales before returning home to Brussels in March ahead of the government lockdown.

Like students across the country, the royal has been forced to finish her studies remotely and will not return to the school.

She has spent lockdown living with her parents, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, and her three siblings in Brussels. 

The princess, who received her International Baccalaureate Diploma this summer, will complete a one-year course in social and military sciences.  

There, she will learn in-depth about the four components of Belgian defense; Army, Air Force, Navy and Medical.

King Philippe, 60, spent three years at the esteemed institution between 1978 to 1981. 

While in isolation at Laeken Palace, Elizabeth and her siblings Prince Gabriel, 16, Prince Emmanuel, 14 and Princess Eleonore, 12, spent time volunteering.

They showed their support for Belgium’s elderly population by calling retirement homes and delivering baked goods.

Elisabeth’s younger sister Princess Elenore was seen tagging along on some of her mother’s engagements, doing her best to help Belgium move forward from the pandemic.

On May 14 she accompanied her mother Queen Mathilde to a community kitchen providing meals for the homeless.

The following day she headed back to school, with her dad King Philippe wearing a mask as he walked her to the establishment in Brussels.

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