King Albert Ii of Belgium is to abdicate on the country's national day (21Jul13). The king, who has ruled Belgium since the death of his brother King Baudouin in 1993, made his intention to step down as monarch clear during a short speech to the nation on Wednesday (03Jul13). His son Prince Philippe will replace him. The 79 year old said, "Prince Philippe is well prepared. He and (his wife) Princess Mathilde have my entire confidence, so it is with serenity and confidence that I announce I intend to abdicate on July 21. "I am at an age never attained by predecessors. My age and my health do not allow me to exercise my duties as I would like." His decision makes history as no other Belgian monarch has ever abdicated the throne since the country gained independence from the Netherlands in 1831. King Albert's decision to step down is the second abdication in Europe this year (13) - Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands gave up the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in April (13) after a 33-year rule.