Belgium is preparing to crown a new king, as Albert II abdicates and hands over the royal reigns to his eldest son, Prince Philippe.
On the eve of official ceremonies, the monarch has made a final speech to the nation.
“Today, it is with emotion that I speak to you one last time as king,” said Albert.
“You will ask me, at the moment when I hand over my duties, what are my wishes for the future. My wish is that Belgium keeps its cohesion.”
King Albert is credited with bringing about that cohesion – uniting a linguistically divided country.
During his speech, he also urged Belgians to support Philippe and his wife Mathilde.
“They are an excellent couple to serve our country and they enjoy my full confidence,” he said.
The new king will take to the throne on Sunday, which is also National Day.
Streets have been decked out with national flags and shops have been packed with souvenirs, as people prepare to mark a memorable moment in Belgium’s history.
Latest world news
Turkey: journalist speaks out against those ‘targeting’ him after Istanbul shooting
Syrian and Russian military deny conducting air strike on refugee camp
North Korea kicks off congress, but foreign invitees refused entry
Clearing mines from the ancient site of Palmyra with restoration work ongoing
Turkey: journalist heading to state secrets trial shot at moments before verdict
Wires > News
- 20:30 CET Convoy leads Canada fire evacuees through burning city to safety
- 20:27 CET China takes first step in $1 billion pledge to U.N. to fund peace…
- 20:25 CET Egypt gives Italy phone records of union chief – source
- 19:58 CET Russia says U.S.-Georgian military exercises could destabilise…
- 19:56 CET U.S. says it is committed to keeping Aleppo truce in place beyond…
- 19:40 CET Brazil Senate committee votes for Rousseff to stand trial
- 19:33 CET Turkey’s Erdogan rebuffs EU on terrorism law
- 19:23 CET Franco-Tunisian woman kidnapped in Yemen appeals for release