Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium became the new monarch on Sunday (21Jul13) after his father King Albert Ii stepped down as the head of state. Albert II, who has ruled Belgium since the death of his brother King Baudouin in 1993, ended his reign on the country's national day as crowds of well-wishers gathered in the streets to pay their respects following his abdication. His son was sworn in as the nation's new leader after taking his oath at the parliament and he later joined his wife, Mathilde, on the royal palace balcony for their first official appearance as the King and Queen of Belgium. The couple's eldest daughter, Princess Elisabeth, is now next in line to the throne. The ailing 79 year old announced his abdication plans due to health reasons earlier this month (Jul13).