‘I am old and sick’: Belgian King Albert II to abdicate in favour of son Prince Philippe
Belgium’s 79-year-old King Albert has announced that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Prince Philippe, in a surprise address to the nation that comes weeks after a woman claiming to be his daughter launched court proceedings to prove her paternity.
King Albert II will be the second European monarch this year to hand over the reins to the next generation, after the abdication of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix in April. But while Beatrix was following the tradition of her mother and grandmother, abdications are less common in Belgium, where the royal family is one of the few institutions uniting the French-speaking south and the Flemish-speaking north.
King Albert said he had decided to end his 20-year reign because “my age and health no longer allow me to carry out my duties as I would like to”. Speaking slowly and reading from notes, he told his 11 million subjects that his son Philippe, 53, was “very well prepared” to become the seventh king on 21 July.
It has been a trying year for the Belgian royals. In January, King Albert’s sister-in-law, Queen Fabiola, was accused of trying to shield some of her fortune from inheritance tax.
Then in June, Delphine Boël asked a court to order the king and two of his children to give DNA samples to prove her claim that she is the product of an affair between Albert and an aristocrat.
The jovial and chatty king has proved popular since inheriting the crown after the death of his brother, Baudouin, in 1993. Albert helped mediate when the nation went for 541 days without a government in 2010-11, in part because of the deep divisions between politicians from both sides of Belgium’s linguistic divide.
Whether Prince Philippe is able to maintain that stability could help decide the future unity of the European nation.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters describe their hopes and dreams in touching photographs
Liam Neeson on death of wife Natasha Richardson: ‘When I hear the door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her’
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...