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Divided Belgium greets new monarch

Festivities to swear in the new king of the Belgians kicked off on Sunday (July 21) with a special mass at Brussels landmark St. Michael and St. Gudula cathedral. Large crowds greeted King Albert II, Queen Paola, Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde as they arrived at a Te Deum mass celebrating the 20th anniversary of the monarch's rein. Alongside the festivities there are questions over the political influence of the monarch and the acceptance of Philippe as the king of all Belgians. The 183-year-old country is split across the middle, with many Dutch speakers seeking greater independence for Flanders in the north and wary of a monarchy seen 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 against two-thirds in Wallonia, according to a poll.

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