Belgian king abdicates to make way for son Philippe
Sunday 21 July 2013
Belgium is set to welcome a new king as the current monarch, Albert, abdicates following a 20-year reign, handing over the throne to his son Philippe.
At 79, Albert will first sign away his rights as the largely ceremonial ruler of the kingdom in the presence of prime minister Elio Di Rupo, who holds the political power in this 183-year-old parliamentary democracy.
After the morning ceremony at the royal palace, Philippe, 53, will take the king's oath before the nation's legislators at the parliament building, a short walk across the Royal Park in the heart of the city.
Afterward, King Philippe and new Queen Mathilde are expected to greet the crowds below in a balcony scene at the palace before fireworks end several ceremonies marking the day.
Albert announced his abdication plans less than three weeks ago, so there was little time to turn the occasion into a huge international event and no foreign royals were expected at the crowning.
Since the royal transition coincides with Belgium's national day celebrations, a military parade had already been planned.
Philippe will face a tough task in the coming months. The fractious nation, ever-more divided by language, holds parliamentary elections in June 2014 amid calls for even more autonomy for the six million Dutch-speaking Flemings and 4.5 million French-speakers. The monarchy could find its role even more diminished.
After the last elections in 2010, it took a record 541 days before a government could be formed amid much bickering about how much more power should be sapped from the central state to profit the separate language groups.
Unlike his five predecessors, Albert tried to avoid politics as much as possible and Philippe is expected to do likewise.
Philippe has been groomed for the job as a leader of foreign trade delegations over the past two decades. He and Mathilde have four children.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...