Sunday, July 21, 2013


BELGIUM'S KING has abdicated the throne due to old age. King Albert II, age 79, stepped down and let his son Crown Prince Philippe be sworn in on Sunday, July 21, 2013. "I have noticed how my age and my health have not permitted me to exercise my duties the way I would like to." King Philippe is 53 and speaks both official languages of Flemish and French. He was trained in Belgium as a pilot. His wife is now Queen Mathilde. They have four children, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Emmanuel, Princess Eléonore, and Prince Gabriel. 

Here is the speech of King Philippe upon taking office:
Your Majesties, Mr. President of the Chamber of Representatives, Madam President of the Senate, Deputies, Senators, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In taking the constitutional oath before you, I am aware of the responsibility which is now incumbent upon me. This oath is a solemn promise which renews the relationship of trust that has existed for nearly two hundred years between the King and the Belgian people.
Today I am succeeding six other Kings, including my father, King Albert. Sire, for twenty years, you have maintained this trust by showing yourself to be on the one hand close to everyone, warm and profoundly human, and on the other attentive and committed in the exercising of your responsibility as Head of State. Queen Paola has assisted you in your task, whilst devoting herself more specifically to such essential fields as education and culture.
With serenity, dignity and devotion, you have accompanied the Belgian people on sometimes difficult occasions, as well as during happy moments, at a time marked by profound change throughout the world. We are most grateful to you.
I am aware of my great fortune to be able to count on the permanent support of my wife, Queen Mathilde. Dear Mathilde, for many years you have channelled your efforts wholeheartedly into numerous activities. You have an innate sense of human contact. Along with our dear children, we shall confidently begin this new chapter in our lives and that of our country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am beginning my reign with the determination to place myself at the service of all Belgians. I shall therefore work in perfect understanding with the government and consistent with the Constitution. Over the years, I have been able to build ever-stronger ties with a great many of my fellow citizens. I intend to intensify this dialogue.
The wealth of our country and our institutional system resides notably in the fact that we have turned our diversity into a strength. Each time, we succeed in striking the balance between unity and diversity. Belgium’s strength is precisely its ability to give meaning to our diversity.
The latest State reform has brought about a major transfer of powers to the federated entities. It will bring citizens closer to decision making and enable us to deal more effectively with challenges in the future. Belgium’s strength also resides in its federated entities. I intend to maintain constructive contacts with their leaders. I am convinced that cooperation between the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions will bring about greater benefits for our citizens and businesses.
Together we can highlight each individual’s talents. This is the source of the genius of our country, which has developed throughout our history. It is a state of mind that has shaped our character and our values. Facing up to the most complex problems together, reconciling various aspirations and integrating them without losing any of their originality and strength has also helped forge our inventiveness and our sense of moderation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The values that inspire us have guided generations of men and women before us. Through their commitment in society and politics, they have ensured our country has acquired a high level of prosperity and solidarity. They have provided both a solid framework for enterprise and effective social security.
We are now confronted with a crisis that is hitting many of our fellow citizens very hard. Today I would like to encourage every man and woman to face up to this challenge. I am profoundly convinced that there is unsuspected potential in each one of us which is waiting to be revealed. Besides we have together the means to surmount our difficulties and guarantee everyone the opportunity to progress.
Now more than ever, the European project has to give us hope and confidence. The Europe we are working towards must bring growth and solidarity. We are proud that our capital city is also the capital of Europe and that at each moment in its history, Belgian leaders have worked at the heart of this great project. During my missions abroad, I have been able to observe how much Belgium’s assets, its talents and strengths are appreciated throughout the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the spirit in which I shall work during my reign.  I shall support all of our qualities, in Belgium and abroad.
Together, let us bring a new surge of enthusiasm to our country.
Long live Belgium! Vive la Belgique! Leve België! Es lebe Belgien!

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