King Albert II of the Belgians announced on Wednesday that he would give up the throne to allow his eldest son, Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, to take over.
In 18 days the King will step down - Long live the King!
|King Albert II adressing the nation on 3rd July 2013 at 6 pm.|
"It is with serenity and full of confidence that I announce my intention to step down on July 21, 2013, our national holiday, in favour of the heir apparent, my son Philippe," King Albert II said. "I realise that my age and my health are no longer allowing me to carry out my duties as I would like to."
"After a reign of 20 years I believe the moment is here to hand over the torch to the next generation. Prince Philippe is well prepared to succeed me."
Ahead of the speech, broadcast on all major television and radio networks, the palace said the King would meet key members of the government. The government later scheduled a press conference at which Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo praised 53-year-old Prince Philippe, who has led trade delegations for Belgium abroad.
"He has already shown repeatedly how much he loves Belgium and the prince is willing to serve the country well. He can count on the support of the government," said Di Rupo.
|Letter of King Albert II of the Belgians to his Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.|
|The Belgian Royal Family on the country's national day, 21st July.|
Prince Philippe is not unknown to Australia. Only in November 2012 he paid a last visit to Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Canberra and Tasmania. He led a Belgian Economic Mission of 147 businessmen and women, who represented 91 companies.
|In November 2012 Prince Philippe visited Australia and started his tour down under in Perth.|
More on Belgium's new Queen Mathilde here - in an article for her 40th birthday in January 2013.