King Albert II of Belgium Announces Abdication

Belgium's only had a monarch since 1831


King Albert II of Belgium announced his abdication, trying to smooth the path to next year's elections in a country torn between the richer Dutch-speaking north and poorer French-speaking south.

Albert, 79, said he will end almost 20 years as the titular head of state and hand over to his eldest son, Prince Philippe, on July 21, the anniversary of the inauguration of the first Belgian king in 1831.