Belgium King Will Abdicate Throne For His Son, Prince Philippe

It all goes down on July 21, Belgium’s independence day.

1. This is King Albert II, Belgium’s 79-year-old monarch. He’s been on the throne for nearly 20 years.

Pool / Reuters

On Wednesday, the King — Belgium’s sixth ever — gave a televised address announcing he would abdicate the throne to his son, an unprecedented move in the European country’s history.

“After a reign of 20 years I believe the moment is here to hand over the torch to the next generation,” Albert II said. “Prince Philippe is well prepared to succeed me.”

From the Associated Press:

Albert brought earthy charm and easygoing fun to the royalty after decades of stiff formality under Baudouin. But increasingly the years wore on him as he turned from a king with a love of sleek motorcycles into a frail monarch who sometimes relied on a walking stick.

3. Crown Prince Philippe is generally considered less fun and more “responsible.”

Photo by Mark Renders / Getty Images

… Crown Prince Philippe, 53, has long been seen as awkward and reclusive.

“He was always faced with the dictum, ‘He’s not up to it.’ It still weighs on him,” [historian and author Marc Reynebeau] said …

[Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo] said that Prince Philip “has shown a great sense of responsibility in preparing” to succeed his father.

5. Philippe is set to take over on July 21.

Laurent Dubrule / Reuters

6. Next in line to the throne is Princess Elisabeth, Philippe’s daughter with Princess Mathilde and future frenemy of that other famous royal spawn.

Pool / Reuters

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