King Albert II gives Queen Paola 'big kiss' at abdication

BRUSSELS, Brussels Capital Region - King Albert II of Belgium offered his wife Queen Paola "a big kiss" in a brief emotional moment at his official abdication ceremony Sunday after 20 years of reign.

Breaking off from a prepared speech the 79-year-old king's voice broke as he turned to Paola to say: "As for the queen who constantly supported me in my task I would simply like to tell her 'thank you'"

"A big kiss", he adding, using both French and English in the phrase "Un gros kiss".

Paola, his Italian-born wife of 54 years, shed a tear and the 250 parliamentarians and other dignitaries broke into a long round of applause.

The pair met in Rome in the late 1950s when Albert was prince. Paola's legendary beauty wowed the country and the young royal couple were a regular feature of glossy magazine in those years.

Albert is handing over to his oldest son Philippe, 53.