- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Philippe becomes Belgian king as Albert abdicates
Question of the Day
BRUSSELS (AP) — Crown Prince Philippe became Belgium’s seventh monarch on Sunday’s National Day after his father, King Albert II, 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 French-speaking Walloons, King Philippe insisted that “the wealth of our nation and our institutions consists in turning our diversity into a strength.”
The ceremony capped a day of transition that started when Philippe’s 79-year-old father 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.
While crowds of well-wishers cheered the royal family’s every move Sunday, far from everybody in Belgium was happy with the new king.
One Flemish separatist group, the Flemish Interest party, boycotted the parliamentary ceremony, while the legislature’s biggest party, the N-VA New Flemish Alliance, sent only a limited delegation without its leader, Bart De Wever.
“We are full-blooded democrats, and the purest form of democracy is the republic,” said Jan Jambon, the parliamentary leader of the party, which has surged to become the main opposition party seeking Flemish independence through transition.
Their absence also highlighted one of the biggest challenges Philippe will face in his reign — how to remain relevant as a unifying symbol in a nation ever more drifting apart between the northern Flemings and the southern Walloons.
Philippe made no attempt to paper over those cracks, instead casting the country’s division as one of its strengths.
“Time and again we find the balance between unity and diversity,” Philippe said. “Belgium’s strength is precisely that we make room for our differences.”
Unlike a disturbance during the oath-taking by King Albert 20 years ago, when one legislator shouted, “Long live the European Republic!” Sunday’s ceremony in the packed legislature was flawless, with Albert and Philippe’s wife, Mathilde, looking on as he confidently took the oath.
Philippe long has been contested as a worthy successor of Albert, but after years of wooden and timid public performances, the silver-haired, bespectacled monarch came over as confident and pressure-proof.
“Belgium is modernizing itself, and it gives me joy,” Albert said. In a rare show of public affection for his son, the two embraced warmly when Albert signed away his rights as the kingdom’s largely ceremonial ruler at the Royal Palace.
There, under crystal chandeliers in a gilded hall, Mr. Di Rupo called Albert “a great head of state” and told the outgoing king, “You are closing an important page in the history of our country.”
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.
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!