King Albert of the Belgians kept silent on his plans to abdicate for several months at the request of Elio Di Rupo, the prime minister at the time. Di Rupo expressed fears of destabilising the country by N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), a political party. Elio Di Rupo explained this in Belgian TV-programme Royalty Sunday night.
King Albert announced on 3 July 2013 that he would be abdicating the throne in favour of his son on 21 July 2013. His age and declining health held him back from doing his duties as he wished to do.
“My biggest fear was that the N-VA would destabilise the country,” Di Rupo said during the broadcast. “The King already had a date in mind: 21 July. I didn’t want months to pass between the announcement and the abdication itself. If you are familiar with the political situation in our country and also the attitude of the N-VA, you would understand why.”
The N-VA is a centre-right Flemish nationalist and conservative political party. It strives for a peaceful and gradual secession of Flanders from Belgium. It is known for its insistence on the exclusive use of the Dutch language. They have become the largest party of Flanders and of Belgium and are currently a part of the Belgian government. While forming the current government, the N-VA has promised to stop attacking the monarchy. “There is an unwritten pact between the party and the monarchy to not attack each other,” political scientist Bart Maddens told Het Nieuwsblad. “There is nothing in writing, but there is an agreement between N-VA and the monarchy since the forming of the government of 2014. There will be no call to give the King purely ceremonial duties, no difficult questions about endowments and in return, King Philippe refrains from political statements.”
This episode of Royalty is one of two specials, which are being broadcast as Royalty ends its broadcast after 20 years. The second special will be broadcast on 25 December.