Skip to main content

Belgium's King Albert II gives up throne to son

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
July 21, 2013 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
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
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 1718 GMT (0118 HKT)
This is how the two U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola will be evacuated from west Africa.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1829 GMT (0229 HKT)
How did al Qaeda recruit a former Florida high school footballer?
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1108 GMT (1908 HKT)
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would be "complicated." Can John Kerry's visit change that?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
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.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 0331 GMT (1131 HKT)
What're you doing after work today? If you lived in these cities you could head to the BEACH!
ADVERTISEMENT