July 2, 1959 – Wedding of Albert Prince of Liège and Paola Ruffo di Calabria.
Today, King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary, making them the longest married Belgian royal couple. On July 2, 1959, Prince Albert of Belgium, second son of King Leopold III and Queen Astrid of the Belgians, married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria, daughter of Prince Fulco Ruffo di Calabria, a First World War flying ace, and Countess Luisa Gazelli. In 1993, upon the death of Prince Albert’s childless older brother, King Baudouin I, Albert and Paola succeeded to the Belgian throne. Their marriage has known painful and tragic times, but today they are a devoted couple. The Cross of Laeken
21 July 2013: King Albert II of Belgium abdicated on Belgium’s National Day and his eldest son, Prince Philippe, the Duke of Brabant, assumed the throne as King Philippe of Belgium. Once Philippe had taken the oath of office as King of the Belgians, his eldest daughter, Princess Élisabeth, became heiress apparent and therefore Duchess of Brabant.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great emotion that I address each and every one of you today. I entered my 80th year of age never achieved by my predecessors in the exercise of their functions. I find that my age and my health allows me to exercise my function as I would like. I would be remiss in my duty and my conception of the royal function that you want to keep me in office at all costs, without being able to fully assume my role. This is a basic issue of respect for the institutions and to you, my fellow citizens. After 20 years in power, so I think it is time to pass the torch to the next generation. I note that Prince Philip is well prepared to succeed me. He enjoys with Princess Mathilde of my confidence. Over the years, especially in the context of economic missions abroad, Prince Philippe has highlighted its commitment to this country dear to his heart. And above all, over time I learned that our country can count on an extraordinary asset, YOU my dear fellow! With a rich population of talents, its diversity, its energy, its generosity, the future of our country is in very good hands! So it is with serenity and confidence, I am telling you of my intention to resign this July 21, 2013, the day of our national holiday, in favor of the Crown Prince, my son Philippe.
Ladies and gentlemen, Throughout my reign, a deep conviction has guided my design of the royal function. The role of the King of the Belgians and legitimacy is to serve democracy and its citizens, only holders of sovereignty. In this regard, the royal institution must continue to evolve with the times. As usual I address you again on July 20 and I will be attending with the Queen and the new Sovereign ceremonies on July 21. I already want to tell you that it was an honor and an opportunity to be able to devote a large part of my life in service to our country and its people. Queen Paola and I will never forget as warm ties with the entire population over the past 20 years.
Thank you for the confidence you have placed in us, your gestures of sympathy and support even sometimes tinged with some criticism. Be aware that you have always been very expensive. We keep in our heart the memory of many meetings in joyful moments, but also at major events.
Of course, the end of my reign does not mean that our separate ways now. Quite the contrary!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In our hearts we preserve memories of many very happy moments but also very difficult exams. The end of my reign does not mean that we part ways.
Quite the contrary!
Long live Belgium!
Vive la Belgique!
King Albert II’s in a speech which he announced he will be stepping down in favor my lovely Philippe