Royal families and their succession plans

Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe hugs his father King Albert II during the King's abdication ceremony at the Royal Palace on Belgian National Day in Brussels.

BRUSSELS - After the abdication on Sunday of King Albert of the Belgians, Europe has two queens, five kings, two princes and a grand duke, making a total of 10 hereditary monarchies.


SUCCESSION: The oldest male or female.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Belgium.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Philippe, King of the Belgians, 53, who Sunday succeeded his father Albert II, 79, who abdicated.

HEIR: Elisabeth, 11


SUCCESSION: The system has been changed so that the eldest offspring of Prince William and his wife Catherine will have priority, whatever their gender.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Windsor.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Queen Elizabeth II, 87, who is also head of the Commonwealth and the Church of England.

HEIR: Charles, 64.


SUCCESSION: the oldest male or female offspring.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Orange-Nassau.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Willem-Alexander, 46, who took the throne on April 30 after the abdication of his mother, Beatrix, 75.

HEIR: His eldest daughter Catharina-Amalia, 9.


SUCCESSION: Males have priority.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Bourbon.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: King Juan Carlos, 75.

HEIR: Felipe, 45.


SUCCESSION: the oldest male or female.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Oldenburg.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Queen Margrethe II, 73.

HEIR: Frederik, 45.


SUCCESSION: the oldest male or female.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Bernadotte.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: King Carl XVI Gustaf, 67.

HEIR: Victoria, 36.


SUCCESSION: the oldest male or female.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Oldenburg.


HEIR: Haakon Magnus, 39.


SUCCESSION: The oldest male or female.

ROYAL FAMILY: The second House of Nassau.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Grand Duke Henri, 58.

HEIR: Guillaume, 31.


SUCCESSION: the oldest male.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Grimaldi.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Prince Albert II, 55.

HEIR: Albert's sister Caroline, 56.


SUCCESSION: all male descendents have priority.

ROYAL FAMILY: The House of Liechtenstein.

CURRENT SOVEREIGN: Prince Hans-Adam II, 68.

HEIR: Alois, 45.

BRUSSELS, July 21, 2013 (AFP) - Belgium's King Albert II abdicated on Sunday, the country's national day, in favour of his eldest son Philippe.

Next page: Abdications in the world

Abdications in the world over the past century:

- BRITAIN: Edward VIII was forced to abdicate after only several months in power on December 12, 1936, in order to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson, thus avoiding a major constitutional crisis. His younger brother Albert took over the throne under the name of George VI in May 1937. He was the father of the current Queen Elizabeth II.

- ROMANIA: Michael I was forced to abdicate by the communists in December 1947, before going into exile several months later.

- ITALY: Victor-Emmanuel III, the king of Italy since 1900, abdicated on May 9, 1946 because of his collaboration with the fascist regime of dictator Benito Mussolini. His son, Umberto II, nicknamed the "May King", went into exile in June of the same year, the day after a referendum setting up the republic.

- BELGIUM: King Leopold III, on the throne since 1934 but controversial because of some of his actions during World War II, was forced to abdicate on July 16, 1951 in favour of his son Baudouin I in order to avoid the possibility of major civil unrest after his return to the throne after six years in exile. King Albert II on Sunday becomes the first Belgian king to voluntarily abdicate.

- EGYPT: King Farouk I abdicated in July 1952 during the revolution led by Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser, 16 years after his accession to the throne. His son, Fuad II, succeeded him, but was forced to join his family in exile after the proclamation of the republic less than a year later in June 1953.

- LUXEMBOURG: Grand Duke Jean abdicated on October 7, 2000 after a 36-year-reign, and his elder son, prince Henri, took his place. Jean had himself succeeded his mother, the grand duchess Charlotte, after her abdication in 1964.

- CAMBODIA: Norodom Sihanouk, 81, abdicated on October 7, 2004 after being treated in Beijing for cancer. Sihanouk, who came to the throne for the first time in 1941, had already abdicated in 1955, in favour of his father, before becoming again constitutional monarch in 1993. The constitutional council chose as his successor one of his sons, Prince Norodom Sihamoni.

- NETHERLANDS: Dutch Queen Beatrix, 75, abdicated on April 30, 2013 in favour of her son Willem-Alexander, after a 33-year reign. The Netherlands has a history of abdications: Beatrix took over the throne on April 30, 1980, when her mother queen Juliana abdicated on the day of her 71st birthday. Juliana herself took the throne in September 1948, after her mother, queen Wilhelmina, abdicated.

- QATAR: The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 61, abdicated on June 25 of this year in favour of his 33-year-old son Sheikh Tamim, the first such recent transfer of power in an Arab country.

- LIECHTENSTEIN: Prince Hans-Adam II handed over management of the principality's affairs to his eldest son, Hereditary Prince Alois, 36, on August 15, 2004. Since then, Alois has performed the duties of head of state, in preparation of his official succession to the throne.