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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Belgian King Albert II abdicates power to his son.....

Abdicate : Verb : to relinquish [power or responsibility] formally....

In this beautiful World, where mankind is all after power and money – giving up things on their own is a rarity.  In Northwest  part of Europe lies Benelux – Union of states comprising of  Belgium, Nederlands and Luxembourg. The union's name is formed from joining the first two or three letters of each country's name – Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg.  Historically it was ‘Low Countries’ – the coastal region around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers.

Belgium is a small but pivotal Nation in Europe. Belgium has a constitutional monarchy in which the king plays a largely ceremonial role. One of the duties the monarch does have is trying to resolve constitutional crises. The buzz is that the King of the Belgians, Albert II, has announced his abdication.  In an unexpected address to the nation, the 79-year-old king said he would formally abdicate in favour his son, Crown Prince Philippe, on July 21, Belgium's national day. It is the first time a Belgian monarch has voluntarily stepped down.

"I am at an age never attained by my predecessors," he said. "I have noticed that my age and health no longer allow me to fulfill my job as I should have wished. I would not meet my duties and not honour my view of the royal function if I stuck to my post at all costs. "It's a question of elementary respect for the institutions and of respect towards you. Following a 20-year reign, I am of the opinion that the moment has come to hand the torch on to the next generation. I want to tell you now that it was an honour and a joy to devote a large part of my life to the service of this country and its people."

Even in older Kingdoms, history is replete of instances where brothers fought for power or where sons killed fathers usurping the crown.  Albert, who has played a critical role in holding Belgium together as a country over the past three years, is approaching his 20th anniversary on the throne, after taking over from his brother Baudouin of Belgium, who died in 1993. The king is known to be unwell and exhausted after a difficult five years for Belgium where deep divisions between Flemish Dutch-speakers and French-speaking Walloons have pushed the country to the brink of break-up."  King Albert met the Belgian government's cabinet earlier on Wednesday to inform them of his decision, Belgian state TV reported. In recent years King Albert II has been part of the glue that just about holds this nation together. He intervened decisively when, for more than a year, Belgium's politicians could not form a government.

As he abdicates, political observers state that  Flemish political parties would like to reduce the role of the king, and some would abolish the monarchy. The style, authority and tact of the new incumbent Philippe would decide whether the Country would remain united or split in the years to come.  Some time back, the Belgian king provoked a sharp response to a Christmas message in which he drew parallels with the rise of fascism in the 1930s. Then he warned  against the dangers of populists seeking scapegoats for current economic difficulties. The Flemish circles assumed that it was aimed at them. 

The abdication though rare is not without precedence.  King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom abdicated the throne in 1936 Edward abdicated the British throne in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, over the objections of the British establishment, the governments of the Commonwealth, the royal family and the Church of England. The event is known as the abdication crisis. It was the first time in history that the British or English crown was surrendered entirely voluntarily.

In our Mahabarath, the Kuru King Shantanu ruled Hastinapuram.  He married Ganga and to them was born the Great Bhishma.  Later, Shantanu married Satyavati, adopted daughter of a ferryman  and the marriage was performed with the condition that the son Satyavati bore the king would inherit the throne. While King Shantanu struggled to give word, Bhishma coming to know of this, renounced all his claims to the throne, remained celibate and served the Kingdom, protecting it against all opponents……………

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
4th July 2013.

Photo courtesy : dnaindia.com

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