Earlier in July, Belgium’s King Albert II announced that he would step down in favor of his son, Crown Prince Philippe, on the 21st of the month. A good move, as it is an opportunity to blend national celebration with the crowning of a new monarch.
The king, 79, stated that his health was the reason he intended to abdicate after nearly 20 years on the throne.
Phillippe takes the throne as the 7th King of the Belgians. His wife, Mathilde, will become queen consort. The couple’s eldest child, Princess Elisabeth, is now the heir to the throne and will be known as Duchess of Brabant.
Phillippe follows his friend King Willem-Alexander, who gained the Dutch throne in April when his mother Beatrix abdicated after 33 years as monarch.
The abdication of King Albert has a more controversial side: after he succeeded his brother in 1993, Albert found himself at the center of scandal when he was alleged to be the father of an out-of-wedlock daughter, Delphine Boel.
Ms. Boel recently came forward again with her claims that she is the king’s daughter, and even began court proceedings in order to prove paternity. Some speculate that this move may also have contributed to his decision to abdicate now, moving the possible timing from November to July.