The Belgian government has decided that Prince Laurent is to lose 15% of his dotation in 2018. The Prince is being punished for his unauthorised visit to the Chinese Embassy earlier this year.
Yesterday, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced that Prince Laurent was going lose a part of the annual stipend he receives from the government to carry out his official duties. The number has been set at a 15% reduction of his dotation. Prime Minister Michel said: “We [the government] have decided that we need to apply the law concerning the dotations of the Royal Family. The parliament will have the last word.”
The Belgian parliament will indeed need to approve the measure the government has taken, but this seems to be a formality. Normally, Prince Laurent would receive around 314.000 euros but because of the decision made by the government, the amount has been reduced to 266.900 euros. This is a highly unusual measure as a member of the Belgian Royal Family has never lost a part of his/her stipend before. The largest federal party (N-VA)’s spokesman commented: “We think it’s a good decision. Those who don’t want to listen, have to feel.”
The Prince does not receive this punishment without reason. Prince Laurent tweeted a picture earlier this year of himself wearing his naval uniform while visiting the Chinese Embassy. The Prince was invited to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Red Army. He is obligated to ask permission for such visits, but apparently, on this occasion, he didn’t feel like doing that. He has never apologised and doesn’t seem to understand why he can’t do things like that without asking for permission. Prince Laurent’s lawyer sent a letter to the Belgian Prime Minister earlier this month in which he stated that the government’s attempt to limit his meetings with the representatives of foreign states amounted to a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as it would force him into “social isolation.” Prince Laurent’s lawyer insisted that the Prince has been stopped from getting a job all his life “in humiliating ways” and in a manner that has been damaging to his “image and, dare I add, his health.”
It is not the first time that Laurent pulled such a stunt. He has overstepped the mark three times so far with a meeting with the President of Congo, with diplomats of Libya and Angola and recently a meeting with the president of Sri Lanka. As a member of the Belgian Royal Family, he should ask permission for such meetings as he has to be politically impartial. That’s a rule that counts for every member of the Belgian Royal Family, particularly those who receive a generous stipend like Laurent.
The Prince is known for stepping out of line within the Royal Family. He has been doing this for his entire life. A full list of his previous escapades can be found here.
Prince Laurent has already reacted to his punishment through his lawyer. His lawyer stated on live television that “the measure of the government is without precedence and disproportional. The Prince loses his entire stipend in this way. Have you ever heard that someone had to give way to his whole annual salary for one mistake?”
The lawyer continued: “The Prince is very disappointed and outraged by our rule of law as we haven’t received any information from the lawyer of the Belgian government whatsoever.” Prince Laurent’s lawyer also denied that Laurent had done anything against the law. His lawyer also implied that they are likely to appeal against the decision.