Yves Herman / Reuters
Belgium's King Albert II is kissed by Queen Paola on the balcony of city hall during a visit to Liege on July 19, 2013.
Eric Lalmand / AFP - Getty Images, file
Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium arriving for the Probing Vegetation Conference in Antwerp on July 4, 2013. He will become the seventh king of Belgium on Sunday.
The monarchy, along with soccer and beer, is viewed as one of the rare things that unify linguistically divided Belgium and when Prince Philippe becomes its new king on Sunday he will try to prove this is still so.
The early signs are that he has work to do. In a poll conducted by the private TV stations VTM and RTL, just under half of all Flemish respondents believed Philippe would be a good king, compared to two-thirds of respondents in Wallonia.
The political bickering between French-speaking Wallonia in the south and Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north extended into the debate about the future monarch even before King Albert II announced his plan to abdicate two weeks ago.
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