BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium's Prince Philippe has paid tribute to his father, King Albert, a day after the monarch announced he will abdicate later this month and pass the throne of this fractious nation to his son.

Philippe, who will ascend the throne July 21, told reporters in Antwerp on Thursday "I want to pay homage today to the king and his 20-year reign."

The 53-year-old prince, who is seen by many in his nation of 10.5 million as awkward and reclusive, says he is conscious "of the responsibility that befalls me."

Philippe will become the second crown prince to ascend a European throne this year, following in the footsteps of Willem-Alexander, who became king of the neighboring Netherlands on April 30 when his mother, Beatrix, abdicated.