Belgium's shy king finds favour after 100 days on throne
(AFP) Belgium's King Philippe, whose shy ways as crown prince worried the kingdom for many years, is winning over the public after 100 days on the throne, surveys showed this weekend.
As Philippe marks his first 100 days as monarch on Monday, a survey saw him gain popularity even in Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north where sentiment is cooler towards the royal family than in the French-speaking south.
A total 59 percent of Flemish people expressed confidence in the 53-year-old king of the Belgians, 10 points more than just before he ascended the throne, according to a survey of 1,000 people carried out for the VTM television network.
A separate opinion poll for Ipsos and the RTL TV network showed four out of five Belgians, or 79 percent, backing the new king.
Philippe ascended to the Belgian throne on July 21 after his father Albert II's abdication.
With political tension simmering between the country's two main regions, the monarch is a unifying force in the country of 11.5 million at the heart of Europe.
But Belgium had fretted since Albert announced he was abdicating that the quiet and often awkward Philippe, a trained fighter pilot who studied at Oxford and Stanford, might lack the political skills of his father to help maintain the unity of the nation.
Philippe and his wife Queen Mathilde have recently toured Belgium as part of the "Joyeuses Entreés", which traditionally see the newly invested king and queen meet with representatives from all over Belgium.