Skip to main content

Belgium's King Albert II gives up throne to son

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Sun July 21, 2013
King Albert II of Belgium announced Wednesday, July 3, that he will abdicate the throne on July 21. His son, Crown Prince Philippe, will succeed him. Here the king attends a tribute to the unknown soldier on November 11, 2012, in Brussels, Belgium. King Albert II of Belgium announced Wednesday, July 3, that he will abdicate the throne on July 21. His son, Crown Prince Philippe, will succeed him. Here the king attends a tribute to the unknown soldier on November 11, 2012, in Brussels, Belgium.
HIDE CAPTION
King Albert II of Belgium to abdicate
King Albert II of Belgium to abdicate
King Albert II of Belgium to abdicate
King Albert II of Belgium to abdicate
King Albert II of Belgium to abdicate
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • King Philippe is sworn in as king of Belgium on Sunday in Brussels
  • His father, Albert II, stepped down an hour earlier
  • Belgium also gained a queen, Philippe's wife Mathilde

(CNN) -- Former Crown Prince Philippe was sworn in as king of Belgium on Sunday after his father abdicated the throne an hour before.

Albert II of Belgium gave up his throne over concerns about his advanced age.

"I have noticed how my age and my health have not permitted me to exercise my duties the way I would like to," the 79-year-old said in an address to the nation.

King Philippe, 53, was educated in public schools in Belgium's two major languages, Flemish and French, and later attended the royal military academy, where he trained to be a fighter pilot.

Belgium, which is home to the European Union capital of Brussels, has also gained a queen in Mathilde, Philippe's wife. She is the daughter of a count and countess and graduated with a degree in speech therapy.

Albert's abdication follows that of the Netherlands' Queen Beatrice earlier this year and that of Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has praised Albert for the move.

"I wish to express to him my sincere thanks for his tireless efforts in the service of Belgium and Europe," Barroso said in a statement.

Throughout his 20-year reign, Albert "has never ceased to be a staunch defender of the values that are the basis of the European construction," Barroso said.

The Belgian royal family has had less luck promoting cohesion within its own country, which is culturally split between ethnic Flemish Dutch people in the north, ethnic French people in the south and a small group of ethnic Germans in the east.

Separatist ideas have sprouted particularly in the Flemish region, which has a stronger economy.

Opinion: Why Queen Elizabeth won't step down

CNN's Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 3:03 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 10:23 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 4:15 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:57 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT