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Crowds cheer Belgium's newly inaugurated royal couple

Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 01:12

July 21 - New King Philippe and Queen Mathilde go on a walkabout to mingle with supporters in Brussels. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: Belgium swore in Philippe as its new king on Sunday after his father Albert II abdicated, subduing for a day questions about his ability to bring a divided country together and the power of the monarchy. Following the day's festivities, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde took a walkabout to mingle with cheering crowds hoping to get a glimpse of the recently inaugurated couple in downtown Brussels. Philippe's investiture was tagged onto festivities already planned for July 21, which is Belgium's national day and also marked 20 years of Albert's reign. Philippe is the seventh king of the 183-year-old country which is split across the middle. Many Dutch speakers seek greater autonomy for Flanders in the north and are wary of a monarchy seen to be rooted in the once powerful, but now poorer French-speaking Wallonia in the south. Fewer than half of the people in Flanders believe Philippe will be a good king compared with two-thirds in Wallonia, according to an opinion poll. Even royalist Belgians feel they know little about Philippe, who has appeared reserved in public, in contrast to his more outgoing father.

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Crowds cheer Belgium's newly inaugurated royal couple

Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 01:12