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Belgian royals usher in new era

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By Euronews
Belgian royals usher in new era

<p>After 20 years as King of the Belgians, Albert II abdicates on Sunday, allowing his eldest son, Philip, to take the throne.</p> <p>And Philip’s succession falls on the 21st of July; Belgium’s national day.</p> <p>For one of the country’s most seasoned royal watchers, the event is extremely symbolic.</p> <p>Thomas de Bergeyck, an expert on Belgium’s monarchy and a journalist with <span class="caps">RTL</span>, told euronews that “King Albert II has given a lovely gift to his son.”</p> <p>“The first day of his reign is the 21st of July. The same day when the first king of the Belgian was sworn in as monarch in 1831. Leopold I took that oath on the Royal Square in Brussels,” he said. </p> <p>Since announcing his abdication, King Albert II has been praised for uniting the sometimes divided French-speaking and Dutch-speaking communities. </p> <p>Nicolas, a barber who has a salon on the city’s Rue des Pierres, is an ardent royalist. He says Albert II has been a true mediator and a figurehead who pulled the country out of its last political crisis.</p> <p>“It was he who organsed the last government, wasn’t it? If he hadn’t been there, we would still have no government,” he said.</p> <p>But on the street of the Belgian capital, young people seem to show little enthusiasm in Sunday’s ceremony.</p> <p>“Amongst my friends, I think we aren’t really interested,” said one teenaged girl.</p> <p>The abdication becomes official at 10:30 Central European Time on Sunday. A day of festivities will follow.</p> <p>Philip’s first test will be the general election next year, which could lead to yet another inconclusive result.</p>