Belgium Installs Philippe as Seventh King, Succeeding Albert

Philippe was installed as the seventh king of Belgium, taking over as titular head of the economically and culturally divided nation after the abdication of his father, Albert II.

Dressed in the uniform of commander-in-chief of the Belgian army, Philippe, 53, swore the inaugural oath in Belgium’s three official languages, French, Dutch and German.

“I swear to uphold the constitution and laws of the Belgian people, to defend national independence and territorial integrity,” Philippe said in the ceremony in the federal parliament.

Belgium’s kings play a more prominent role in political life than other European monarchs, as Albert, 79, demonstrated in helping break the record 541-day deadlock over the formation of a government after the 2010 elections. Today’s royal handover, on the annual national holiday, was designed to give Philippe time to settle into his role before the next elections in May 2014.

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