Monday, July 22, 2013

Abdication Coronation

"What do you want to do when you abdicate?" I said grabbing two bottles of Stella Artois. 
"People don't abdicate," Mr. Wonderful said pouring the beer. "They retire." 

First the Pope. Then the Dutch Queen. Now the Belgian King. Everyone's doing it. And by "it" I mean abdicating. King Albert of Belgium abdicated yesterday from the Belgian throne citing his old age and saying that it was time for a younger generation to lead the country, namely his 53 year-old son Phillippe. I personally don't think 79 is old. When my grandmother was 90 she was still still kicking around causing trouble, which means my family's genes don't come with a high profile, well-paying job but they do go the distance in high heels.

"Why do they call it a 'coronation' when the new king didn't receive a crown on his head?" I said watching the computer screen's live feed of yesterday's coronation of King Phillippe.
"Belgium's monarchy is low key," Mr. Wonderful said sipping a beer. 

Low-key? This was the understatement of the year. Not only was the monarchy low-key but the entire country was so laid back you needed to take its pulse to see if it was still alive. 
"Doctor, Belgium's heartbeat is 35 beats a minute."
"It's alive--barely--but it's alive!"

Belgium's Constitutional Monarchy has a democratically-elected government, a Prime Minister and a booming industry in royal be-decked stethoscopes. Two years ago Belgium almost split into two countries--a northern Dutch-speaking apart and a southern French-speaking part. King Albert was widely regarded as single-handedly keeping the country from dividing and putting it on life support.

Sitting on the sofa watching the palace balcony where the new King Phillippe and his wife Queen Matilde and their four children were waving to the crowds, I said.
"You met Phillippe in Los Angeles last month. Maybe you should send him a congratulations gift?"
"What do you buy a king?" Mr. Wonderful said with a shrug.

As the head of the royal family of Belgium, Phillippe has a palace in Brussels, a palace in the countryside and his face on postage stamps. What else could a new king want?

Belgium is a bilingual country where 6 million people speak Dutch and 4.5 million people speak French. Many of the Dutch speakers would like to abolish the monarchy altogether and become a Republic, while the francophones want the country and its monarchy to stay just as it is. Maybe the best thing we can give King Phillippe and Queen Matilde is the confidence to lead a nearly-dead, laid-back country that makes great beer, chocolate and diamonds into further prosperity and stability.

Even though I'm a commoner who will never abdicate, confidence seems like a gift he and his queen could really use. Or maybe a good pair of high heels to kick up in when they're 90.

Veel Geluk! Et Bonne Chance!