Belgian king to address nation amid abdication speculation

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium's King Albert II will give a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, the royal palace said, amid frenzied speculation in the local media that the 79-year-old monarch will step down.

"The core council of ministers has convened in the presence of the king. The king will speak to the people at 1800 (12:00 p.m. EDT) via a radio and television address," the palace said in a statement.

Local newspapers, quoting government sources, reported that the monarch will announce his resignation.

His son Philippe, 53, is next in line to the throne in the small nation where European Union headquarters are located.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Mark Heinrich)