Prince Laurent of Belgium, the younger brother of King Philippe of the Belgians, is claiming that the government is violating his human rights after Prime Minister Michel moved to cut his annual €308,000 (£280,000) government endowment. The meeting between Charles Michel and Prince Laurent was called in response to an unauthorised appearance by Prince Laurent in full naval uniform at a Chinese state celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Red Army. Prince Laurent excused himself from the meeting with a sick note.
Now he has handed a seven-page letter to Prime Minister Michel through his lawyer, where he claims 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”.
The letter also suggests that government’s announcement of action against him before he has had a chance to defend himself is illegal. “It goes without saying that the court of human rights would make short work of such violations of the right to a fair trial,” the lawyer writes. Prince Laurent’s lawyer insists 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”.
“In this traditional view, a prince was not allowed to work (it would testify to ‘a desire for money’, a reproach that some people dare to repeat today, which is the world upside down!),” the lawyer writes. The question of the Prince’s endowment has caused “great uncertainty for the prince and his family, contrary to fundamental rights”, and the state should now offer some “social security or pension rights”.
Prince Laurent’s letter has caused an uproar in Belgium, where until now he had been seen as a harmless figure.