Belgium’s King Albert II to abdicate July 21

Belgium’s King Albert II on Wednesday announced his abdication in favour of his son Philippe after two decades at the helm of the country.

As the second son of King Leopold III (1901-1983) and Astrid of Sweden (1905-1935), Albert was not destined to reign but was forced to ascend to the throne in 1993 on the death of his older brother King Baudouin, who passed away without an heir.

His decision to step down is the first abdication in the history of Belgium. The country gained independence from the Netherlands in 1831.