Belgium will have a new king today, with the coronation of Prince Philippe, taking over from his father Albert.
It is also National Day for a country that in recent times has struggled with its unity and is divided over several questions. The hope is Philippe and his queen Mathilde will re-energise the royal house at a time when constitutionally it provides some of the nation’s strongest glue.
“Phillippe will do a great job he is being trained for that for the past 20 years. One percent sure that he will do a good job. We have confidence and we are royalists,” said one woman in Brussels.
Albert II in his abdication speech underlined Belgium’s future was tightly-knit with the rest of the EU, and that should not be forgotten.
“Let’s continue to believe strongly in Europe. In our world, this European construction is necessary more than ever. In many fields, we can reach our goals only at European level,” he said.
However fewer than half of people in Belgium’s northern Flanders region believe Philippe will be a good king, although Queen Mathilde has national popularity thanks to her charity work.