King Albert II of Belgium abdicates, his son Philippe takes oath as new king

Belgium’s new king and queen, Philippe and Mathilde, above.

Here’s how I rank my interest in European royal houses: first and foremost, the British royals are my absolute favorite, and I probably know much more about them than any other house. In a second place tie, I love covering the Monaco royal family and the Swedish royal family. After that, it just becomes a blur. I really don’t keep up with many of the other royal houses, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you the first thing about Belgium’s royal family. Are they well-liked? Are they uniting figures within their country? I have no idea. But here’s something – just a few months after The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix abdicated so her son, the new King Willem-Alexander, could take over, now Belgium’s king has done the same thing. King Albert II of Belgium abdicated on Sunday so his son, the new King Philippe I, could take over. People Mag has more:

King Philippe I became Belgium’s seventh monarch during a national holiday on Sunday after his father Albert abdicated as the head of this fractured nation.

After he took the oath at the parliament filled with representatives of the 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings and 4.5 million Francophones, Philippe insisted “the wealth of our nation and our institutions consists in turning our diversity into a strength.”

The ceremony capped a day of transition which started when Philippe’s father, the 79-year-old Albert, signed away his rights as the kingdom’s largely ceremonial ruler at the royal palace in the presence of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who holds the political power in this 183-year-old parliamentary democracy.

Less than two hours later, the nation got a new king when Philippe, 53, pledged to abide by Belgium’s laws and constitution.

Crowds of well-wishers cheered the royal family’s every move Sunday, and a new royal couple appeared on the balcony of the royal palace, cheered by some 10,000 well-wishers braving the relentless sun and heat.

Flanked by huge bouquets of white roses, lilies and gerbera, King Philippe kissed new Queen Mathilde’s hand and got a peck on the cheek in return.

President Barack Obama sent the new king congratulations, said American National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

“The president also sends his heartfelt appreciation to King Albert II for his warmth, service, and leadership as he steps down after nearly 20 years,” the statement said. “Belgium is a valued friend of the United States, and the president looks forward to continuing to deepen this bond in the years to come.”

Albert announced his abdication plans less than three weeks ago, so there was little time to turn the occasion into a huge international event. No foreign royals were at the ceremony. Since the royal transition coincides with Belgium’s national day celebrations, a military parade had already been planned.

[From People]

First of all, I’m really sorry I missed the news of his abdication three weeks ago! This is seriously the first time I’m hearing of it. My bad. Second of all, why is Belgium so “fractured”? Is it because of Fleming-versus-Francophone strife? Both populations are “indigenous” to Belgium, correct? And they intermarry, correct? Why you gotta be so fractured, Belgium? Celebrate! You have a new king! (Is he a douche? I have no idea if he’s a douche. Tell me if he’s a douche.)

PS… Queen Mathilde is really pretty!! That’s also a bold head scarf choice for an abdication. And is she wearing blue eyeliner?! I already like her!

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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55 Responses to “King Albert II of Belgium abdicates, his son Philippe takes oath as new king”

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  1. ADD says:

    I don’t follow this either. I’m more intrigued with the claims that King Albert II fathered an illegitimate child, and that he and his wife have barely been together!

  2. Colu says:

    Queen Mathide is gorgeous! Love the head scarf, the dress, and her figure!

  3. Norman Bates' Mother says:

    I don’t know much about this royal family but as a Pole I know that Mathilde is half Polish and her mother, a Countess Anna Komorowska, comes from our old, famous, noble Komorowski family. Her cousin, Bronisław Komorowski, is now a president of Poland. She seems to be far more likeable than he is, though. Mathilde is well-educated, speaks several languages, she graduated the university with the highest honors and prior to her marriage, she worked with the autistic children and had her own speech therapy practice.

    • Anna says:

      She is totally a perfect consort, and I think she and Philippe are a good match. I love that they dated for 3 years and no one had a clue till they announced engagement.

    • Cazzee says:

      That’s great to hear that she has substance in addition to being beautiful.

      She looks a bit like Candace Bergen, doesn’t she?

    • Amalia says:

      This is for Norman Bates’ Mother
      hahaha…… good joke !!! I’m from Poland too so please DON’T LIE about “our” president he is NOT Komorowski….. write Osip Szczynukowicz

  4. lower-case deb says:

    why do i get the vibe that Mathilde wears the pant in this relationship?

    on a separate note. how dear is Queen Fabiola?

    11 million people, 3 queens, 2 kings, 1 illegitimate child, and a whole lotta division. it’s a gift that keeps on giving, if you’re a trivia person.

  5. Annie says:

    From what I know they are supposed to be quite nice people and the king was really hot in his younger days. The queen is 13 years his junior. Their heir is a girl, so the next reigning monarch is expected to be their daughter. They’ve got 4 kids, all gorgeous.
    Belgium has been deeply divided culturally for a a very long time – the country was created at the the Congress of Vienna, after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo.

  6. Anna says:

    I think they are the blandest European monarchical family, or at least the new king and queen are as a couple. But good on them, I guess.

    My faves are the Swedes, the Brits and the Dutch, bc Queen Maxima is the best!

  7. Daz London says:

    Flanders is one of the richest parts of europe. French speaking Wallonia is one of the poorest.
    The flemish are hard working.
    The french Workshy.
    Belgium has a large welfare state that the french wallonians mostly take advantage of, but the flemish have to pay for.
    Politics in Belgium is dominated by the francophone.
    The flemish are tired of this situation and want to leave.

    • Eve says:

      That is quite an exaggeration!
      Although Flanders is indeed one of Europe’s richest regions, quite a number of international/global headquarters of renowned companies are located in Wallonia. Next to that, I have no doubt there is an equal number of workshy people in Flanders and in Wallonia; numbers are even suggesting that the recent knowledge of the second language is better in Wallonia than in Flanders.
      And though the current Prime Minister is Frenchspeaking doesn’t mean that Belgian politics is dominated by the Frenchspeaking parties. Over the past decades the Prime Minister has always been Flemish, coming form the Flemish party that won the elections. It only means that the (Flemish) winner of the elections wasn’t capable of forming a government and therefore relocated to Antwerp, where is mayor now ;-) .
      Finally, although the current largest Flemish party and one opposition party wants Flemish independency doesn’t mean that the majority of the Flemish want the same; these two parties still don’t cover half of the elective votes…

    • DV says:

      looking for a reason why it’s so fractured? this type of comment is great proof.
      I’m a part of both a francophone and flemish family. We’re Belgian. Both sides contribute to the Belgian economy.

  8. lisa2 says:

    Don’t know them.
    but their children seem very young for them. I guess they got married a bit older or had the kids late.

    Handsome family.

    • Poppy says:

      He was 39 when they got married, she was 26.

      Because he married late, there was widespread speculation that he was gay, and that it was an arranged marriage.

  9. jwoolman says:

    I always think of Hercule Poiroit when I hear “Belgium”.
    How clever to pass over the reins on a day they already were going to celebrate! Very frugal.

  10. Kim1 says:

    I dont follow the Royals but I was wondering do the different families “hang out”? Example is Prince Charles friendly with Prince Albert of Monaco? Does Prince Harry play polo with Prince Andrea?

    • Poppy says:

      Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden are all really close friends – Frederick was Haakon’s best man/supporter at Haakon’s wedding.

    • Talie says:

      The Scandinavian royals seem to be the closest and are mostly related. The Luxembourg royals are also close to that set as well for some reason.

    • L says:

      I think some of them do (the crown princes of Norway, Denmark hang out and CP Victoria does as well-plus she’s god mother of all their kids)

      I wonder about Albert though.

    • Myrto says:

      European royal families are all somehow related anyway. For example, the current royal family in Belgium is originally German: the Saxe-Cobourg, the same family Prince Albert (who married Queen Victoria of England) belonged to.
      I can’t quite believe my country is being discussed on celebitchy, that’s so cool!

  11. Kiki says:

    Actually, this family is plagued with scandal. Queen Paola was the Prince Harry of her days… She smoked in public, wore mini skirts, etc… King Albert has a child outside marriage and there have always been very nasty, and I mean NASTY rumours about now King Phillipe. They actually deserve posts on this website!

  12. L says:

    It’s a family tradition to abdicate in Belgium as well (the previous king did the same thing) I kind of like that tradition that the Netherlands, Belgium and some of the other european houses have on that front *side eye at QEII

    Sunday was already a national holiday in Belgium so alot of the events were already planned e.g the parade, so they added on the abdication which is clever planning.

    • Poppy says:

      King Badouin died as King, which is when his brother Albert took over as King. It was their father King Leopold who abdicated, having married someone unsuitable in secret during WW2, as well as having been accused of cowardice/treason (although later cleared). Leopold abdicated in favour of Badouin, Badouin and his wife Queen Fabiola couldn’t have children so Albert inherited.

    • Eve says:

      Sorry, but this is the first time in Belgian history that a king has freely abdicated. King Leopold III was forced to abdicate in 1951, due to his actions (or lack thereof) during WWII. All of the other monarchs passed away and were succeeded by their sons/nephews/brothers.

  13. Diane* says:

    Who’s the lady in the wheelchair?

    • Sachi says:

      Queen Fabiola. Her husband was King Badouin, the current King’s uncle.

      Philippe, the current King, was very close to Fabiola and Badouin, closer than he is to his own parents. Fabiola and Badouin treated him as their heir and son and he spent a lot of time with them when he was young.

    • Poppy says:

      Queen Fabiola, wife of King Badouin, who was King before Albert.

  14. Sachi says:

    From what I read, Philippe was very shy and stiff. A marriage to Spain’s Infanta Cristina was floated around but neither wanted to marry the other.

    Mathilde helped him become more confident and be a warmer person.

    Their relationship seems to be very happy and functional. She supports him a lot and he seems like a good guy. Mathilde looks angelic but IMO she is made of steel…in a good way.

    Their kids look sweet and well-behaved, too.

  15. Talie says:

    I had read that things in Belgium were on shaky ground and many think the idea of royals won’t make it much longer due to economic issues.

  16. capepopsie says:

    The most important thing to know about Belgium is that Hercules Poirot is from Belgium though he´s living in London, and is always mistaken for being french, which he loathes! ;) Just saying . .

    • Tulip Garden says:

      Love Poirot. I also think that sadly he is prob what I think of when I see/hear about Belgium.

  17. Sisi says:

    A lot of the problems in Belgium come from the separation between Flanders And Wallonia; they have Their own language and economies which brings their own priorities.. Flanders has always benefitted from the import/export income that the harbors generate and partly because of that it’s much richer. Brussels is the epicenter of Europe and Nato, and is the capitol of both parts of belgium iirc. However because of it’s international status It almost seems an unofficial separate district. Brussels’ international position costs a shitload of money and not all inhabitants of the country agree with that. If Belgium were to divorce, there might be an intense custody fight over Brussels.
    Belgium is a democracy the two sides have to work together, but it’s just mighty difficult for these parties to come to understandings when so many aspects of the country are separate.

  18. Aagje says:

    As someone from Belgium: vive la république! Done with monarchy and I find no point in it in our current modernised society. Not to mention how much the royal family is being paid to make public appearences. Special side-eye to Laurent for this.

    But it is what it is and I find myself conflicted about the Flanders-Wallonia separation issue. Would it really help improve the economy on both sides? But Belgium has been divided for its entire existence, and that is certainly not going to change anytime soon. We are headed for a divide. Godspeed!

    • Eve says:

      What to do with Brussels then? 3 separate countries?

      • Aagje says:

        I reall don’t know where Brussels will end up, nor will I claim to have expertise on this political matter, but I have seen enough to notice the divide only growing larger, most importantly due to the severe clash in political viewpoints.

        I do think it would be foolish if Brussels attempted to become a principality. It s a political centre that costs handfuls of money, sponsored in part by the EU, of course, and while important in certain views, I really doubt it could sustain its independence and succesfully to boot.

  19. tealily says:

    Her face looks photoshopped onto her body in every picture! I wonder if that’s how she looks in real life.

  20. Ashley says:

    Totally off topic but you should cover the Bhutanese monarchs especially Queen Jetsun Pima!

  21. Ennie says:

    Ooooohhhhh!!!! QUEEN Fabiola is there! You made my day!

  22. buzz says:

    Belgium needs to do a better job of making up with their prior king, King Leopold, did to the Congo. Go look him up on wikipedia. A very very bad man.

  23. Ollie says:

    Mathilde (a born Countess) is the best thing ever happened to Phillipe and the belgian monarchy.

    The “problem” is they are too nice, too bland and uninteresting for the yellow press. They are the most unknown royals in the world because of this. They are a scandal-free couple. No gossip-material like the former King and Queen.

    Mathilde is the perfect consort: hardworking (prior marriage she had a speech therapy practice), strong, intelligent, lovely and beautiful.

    And she will be the last aristocratic wife of a King.

  24. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    In some photos she looks like Renee Zelleweger.