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Belgium prepares for King Albert II's abdication

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Preparations have been made for the abdication of King Albert II of Belgium, who will officially end his 20-year reign on Sunday.A detailed programme of events has been scheduled to guide the handing over of the Belgian throne from King Albert to his son, Crown Prince Philippe, 53.

The historic moment will be marked the night before when the King will attend a traditional concert in the Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels, accompanied by the Belgian Royal family. The esteemed guests will then move on to one of the capital's oldest quarters to enjoy a traditional ball.

Belgium's national day, the 21 July, has been chosen as a fitting day for the King to step down from the throne.

The schedule of events is as follows:9:30 am: Te Deum ceremony at the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula in Brussels11:15am: Abdication ceremony of King Albert II at the Royal Palace in Brussels12:45pm: King Philippe is sworn in before the two chambers of the Belgian federal parliament at the Palace of the Nation1:00 pm: The new King and Queen and the Royal Family greet the population from the balcony of the Royal Palace on Place des Palais1:45 pm: The new King pays homage to the Unknown Soldier at the Congress Column4:05 pm: King Philippe reviews the civil and military troops5:00 pm: Civil and military parade on Place des Palais7:00 pm: The new King and Queen attend the celebrations in the Parc de Bruxelles11:00 pm: The Royal Family watches the firework display that will be launched from the Palace of the Academies on Place des Palais 

Just a month after his 79th birthday, King Albert II made the announcement that he would abdicate due to age and health reasons. "Age and health no longer allow me to perform my duties," he said. "After a 20-year reign, the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation."

The government has not yet decided if foreign authorities will be invited to attend the events, as the day is first and foremost a Belgian tradition.