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The Royal 2010s: Looking back at the accession of King Philippe

By Michael Thaidigsmann - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The 2010s were a decade filled with many major royal events, including the accession of several new monarchs. One of the countries that saw that change was Belgium.

After an almost 20 year reign, King Albert II announced on 3 July 2013 that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Philippe who was at the time the Duke of Brabant. On 21 July 2013, Albert formally abdicated. Approximately one hour later, Philippe was formally sworn in and became The King of the Belgians; 21 July was selected because it is Belgium’s National Day.

The historic event also resulted in his wife, Princess Mathilde becoming the Queen of the Belgians. She is Belgium’s seventh queen consort but the first one of native Belgian descent. His daughter Princess Elisabeth also became the heir apparent upon Philippe’s accession. As such, she gained the title Duchess of Brabant. Should she become Queen of the Belgians as is anticipated, she would become Belgium’s first queen regnant.

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Philippe took an oath from article 91 of the Belgian constitution. He stated, “I swear that I will observe the constitution and laws of the Belgian people, preserve the country’s independence and guarantee its territorial integrity.”

The accession was a local event. While many Belgian government officials and dignitaries were present for the swearing-in, no foreign royals were in attendance. A major theme of the day was unity. The ceremony happened at a time of deep uncertainty that Belgium could remain a unified nation. Both Albert and Philippe emphasised unity in their speeches. Albert asked the country’s leaders “to work tirelessly in favour of Belgium’s cohesion.”

Philippe further emphasised this goal for unity in his speech saying, “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.”

As the 2010s draw to a close, Philippe has been King of the Belgians for over six years, and his daughter and heir Elisabeth turned 18 this year. The 2010s was a decade of significant change and events for the Belgian Royal Family.