Philippe becomes new king of Belgium after father abdicates

King Philippe I says Belgium needs to balance ‘unity and diversity’

Belgium’s King Philippe greets members of the public outside the royal palace in Brussels following his investiture yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Belgium’s King Philippe greets members of the public outside the royal palace in Brussels following his investiture yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 01:00

Belgium’s incoming monarch yesterday pledged to serve “all Belgians”, as he was sworn in as the country’s seventh king. At an understated but emotional ceremony, King Philippe I said that Belgium needed to balance its “unity and diversity” as he vowed to work in agreement with the government and in accordance with the constitution. “The wealth of our country and our institutional system lies particularly in the fact that our diversity is our strength,” he said.

The 53-year old monarch assumes the role at a delicate time in Belgian’s history, as the country grapples with increasing divisions between French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north of the country.

King Philippe assumes the role following his father’s surprise decision to abdicate earlier this month. While 79-year-old Albert cited old age and ill health as the reason for his abdication, a paternity scandal which recently resurfaced may have also contributed to the decision.