King Albert II of Belgium has announced his abdication this afternoon on national television.
Albert II, King of the Belgians, who has been on the throne for nearly 20 years, will give up the crown in favour for his son, Crown Prince Philippe.
In the announcement, Albert said his health was no longer good enough to fulfil his royal duties as the King, and it was time to “pass on the torch to the next generation”.
He said his son Crown Prince Philippe was “well prepared” to be his successor.
Albert announced his abdication will take effect on Belgium’s national day which takes place on July 21.
The King will met with government members before addressing his nation at 4pm GMT on Wednesday afternoon. His Majesty’s announcement was aired on all major networks in Belgium.
After the King’s announcement, which comes a month after his 79th birthday, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo made an announcement to the nation.
The palace confirmed on Wednesday morning an announcement would be made, they said in a statement: “The core council of ministers has convened in the presence of the king. The king will speak to the people at 18:00 via a radio and television address.”
The Belgium Royal Family experience high approval ratings in the country, and son Prince Philippe and wife Princess Mathilde are hugely popular. It is expected the country will welcome the couple to become their next King and Queen.
The couple have four children, Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eleonore.
King Albert’s abdication comes three months after Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stood down in favour of her son Willem-Alexander.