Belgian king speaking amid rumors of step-down

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian King Albert has unexpectedly announced that he will address the nation Wednesday evening, a speech that comes amid rumors he will step down in the near future.

The Royal Palace announced Albert will first attend a meeting with key government members before the address to air on all major broadcast networks at 6 p.m. (1600GMT; Noon EST).

No reason was given for the public address, but it comes after rumors that the 79-year-old monarch would step down, making way for Crown Prince Philippe.

In August, Albert would mark his 20 years on the throne of the kingdom of 10.5 million people.