Philippe sworn in as Belgium's new King

Crown Princess Mathilde and Crown Prince Philippe will now assume the role of Queen and King. Credit: Reuters/Michael Kooren

Belgium's King Albert II abdicated to make way for his son Philippe today after 20 years on the throne.

The 79-year-old King signed away his rights as the largely ceremonial ruler of the kingdom in the presence of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

ITV News reporter Helen Callaghan reports:

Belgium's former Crown Prince Philippe became the seventh king in the country's 183-year-old history following the pre-announced abdication.

Philippe, 53, ascends the throne in a nation which is split between a Dutch-speaking north, where some want to break free from Belgium, and a more pro-royal and pro-Belgian French-speaking south.

Outgoing King Albert shared a hug with his son after marking Belgian National Day with his abdication. Credit: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

He took his oath in Belgium's three official languages - Dutch, French and German - in parliament after Albert signed a legislative act to step down, becoming the second Belgian monarch to do so.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium salute the crowd from a convertible limousine. Credit: REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium wave to the crowds. Credit: REUTERS/Yves Herman