Belgium's King Will Abdicate
Albert will hand over throne to Crown Prince Philippe
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2013 12:13 PM CDT
Belgium's King Albert II, right, speaks with Queen Paola in this 2012 file photo.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
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(Newser) – Europe is getting a new king later this month: Belgium's King Albert says he is too frail to continue at age 79 and will turn over his throne to son Crown Prince Philippe, reports the AP. Albert took over from his brother in 1993 and will be the first of the nation's six kings to voluntarily abdicate. The king plays a largely ceremonial role in Belgium, but the BBC reports that with bitter political strife under way between the nation's Dutch and French-speaking populations, Albert in recent years "has been part of the glue that just about holds this nation together." The 53-year-old Philippe takes over on July 21.