Belgium: King Albert II to abdicate


Elio Di Rupo, left is sworn as Belgian Prime Minister by King Albert of Belgium at Laeken Castle in Brussels, Belgium. Socialist leader Di Rupo has been sworn in as the new head of the Belgian government today after the country endured 541 days without an official leader.


Mark Renders

Belgium’s King Albert II, 79, has announced that he will abdicate the throne so his 53-year-old son, Crown Prince Philippe, can take over.

In a televised address, he said he feels too old to carry out his duties properly, Reuters reported.

"It is with serenity and full of confidence that I announce my intention to step down on July 21, 2013, our national holiday, in favor of the heir apparent, my son Philippe," he said.

The Belgian king has no executive powers, but King Albert made himself useful by acting as a mediator during Belgium's parliamentary crisis in 2010 and 2011, BBC News reported. When a clear winner failed to emerge after elections, he advised lawmakers on forming a government, which they finally did 541 days after the election.

Albert became king in August 1993, following the death of his brother, King Baudouin, at 62. He’s alleged to have fathered an out-of-wedlock child, Delphine Boel. This spring, Boel began court proceedings to prove she is his daughter.

According to the BBC, "There is some speculation in the media that may have influenced his decision to abdicate."

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