Most of the Belgian royal family was present in Laeken yesterday for the annual memorial Mass for deceased family members. The service took place in the Church of Our Lady of Laeken which also houses the royal family vault. The church was built in memory of Queen Louise-Marie (born of Orléans), the second wife of King Leopold I. He had previously been married to Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of King George IV of the United Kingdom.
Several members of the family were absent. Princess Astrid, King Philippe’s sister, is in Mexico for a trade mission but Princess Claire, King Philippe’s sister-in-law, was absent without a reason being given. When asked by a member of the public, her husband Prince Laurent answered that she wasn’t sick but that she was simply at home.
It was quite obvious to those watching that the atmosphere was icy. King Albert II, who abdicated in favour of his son in 2013, was there with his wife Queen Paola but he refused to answer any questions regarding the ongoing paternity case filed by Delphine Boël. King Albert has been ordered by the court to give a DNA-simple, but he has appealed this decision. The case is set to continue on 28 March. Meanwhile, Prince Laurent bitterly complained to the waiting press about the fact that he is still owed money by the Libyan government, calling it “a disgrace.”
The Mass was attended by King Philippe and his wife Queen Mathilde, King Albert and his wife Queen Paola, Prince Laurent, Princess Esmeralda (King Albert’s half-sister) and her son Leopoldo, Princess Léa (the widow of King Albert’s half-brother Prince Alexandre) and Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein (born of Luxembourg and a daughter of King Albert’s sister Princess Joséphine Charlotte).
After the Mass, the family took their time to speak with the waiting public.