Belgian king to abdicate in favor of crown prince

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Associated Press

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 3 at 10:04 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium's King Albert says he will abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Philippe on July 21.

Wednesday's announcement had been rumored for weeks and ends nearly two decades of steady reign over a fractious kingdom, one which has been increasingly torn apart by political strife between northern Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking southern Wallonia.

Frail at 79, King Albert will be handing over the throne to his son Philippe, who is 53.

Albert says his "age and health" no longer allow him to carry out his functions as he would want to.

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