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Belgium's King Albert Abdicates For Son Philippe

King Albert II (right) of Belgium, watched by his son Crown Prince Philippe (left), puts away his pen after signing an act of abdication during a ceremony at the Royal Palace on Belgian National Day in Brussels on July 21.
Belgium's King Albert II has formally abdicated in favor of his son Prince Philippe.

The 79-year-old Albert signed away his rights as monarch oat the royal palace in Brussels on July 21.

The 53-year-old Philippe was then sworn in later in the day, taking the oath at the parliament building.

He thus becomes the seventh monarch in the history of the 183-year-old country.

Albert, in his final address as king, said his country must remain a "source of inspiration" to Europe.

On July 20, he stressed his wish that Belgium -- split between the Flemish-speaking north and the French south -- remain united.

Albert has been on the throne for the past 20 years.

Belgium has a constitutional monarchy in which the king plays a largely ceremonial role.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP