Prince George of Cambridge isn’t the only royal to celebrate a first this year.
A mere 24 hours separated the young prince’s first birthday (July 22) and the one-year anniversary of Belgian King Philippe’s reign (July 21).
Philippe’s father, King Albert II, shocked the nation last year by abdicating on July 21 – Belgium’s National Day. Philippe stepped into the role as king and his wife, Mathilde, became Queen Consort.
Unlike the Dutch, where abdication has been traditional within the royal family, the Belgian people were not expecting Albert to step down. Poor health was cited as the cause, but many felt that the pressure to acknowledge an alleged out-of-wedlock daughter was another reason.
Philippe’s Dutch counterpart, HM King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, met his one-year milestone on April 30th.
The first Dutch king in a century, Willem-Alexander took the throne when Queen Beatrix abdicated after 33 years. The king and his wife, Queen Maxima, immediately undertook an official introductory tour of several European countries. At home, they have been hard at work around the kingdom.
Another abdication took place in June – a first for this year – that of Spain’s King Juan Carlos. His son, now King Felipe VI, is steering the Spanish monarchy’s prestige back into the gilded realm of respectability. Felipe is the same generation as Philippe and Willem-Alexander, and all three must prove to the world that kings are still a guiding light in the maelstrom of politics.
2014 has been a year of firsts, and they have all been immensely positive for the role of royalty. May it ever be so.