At his first day on the job as King of the Belgians, Philippe refused the government’s resignation. Prime Minister Elio di Rupo met with the king at 11am to fulfil the custom of handing in the cabinet’s notice ‘out of respect for the monarchy’.
Belgians might have breathed a collective sigh of relief, having had a stable government since 2011 after setting the world record of 19 months without an elected cabinet.
The country suffered from a political crisis dividing it along linguistic lines between the Flemish north and French south, which continues to rumble on.
As King Philippe took the reins of power from his father Albert, there were notable absences in the room. A Flemish separatist group boycotted the ceremony and the right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) sent a limited delegation.
The new king spoke of turning the country’s “diversity into a strength”, hoping that he will not have to resolve the constitutional crises which his father battled to smooth over during his 20-year rule.