Prince Laurent of Belgium is in the news again after reportedly ‘hiding’ from the Belgian Prime Minister.
The news comes from Het Laatste Nieuws (anglicised: The Latest News), a Dutch newspaper based in Brussels, that reports the controversial prince is avoiding Prime Minister Charles Michel over his unauthorised trip to China.
Earlier this year, Prince Laurent attended a celebration at the Chinese embassy in Brussels for the 90th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, only the latest gaffe in a long history of publicly putting the wrong foot forward.
In August, Prime Minister Michel said that he was looking at applying sanctions to Prince Laurent’s €308,000 (£280,000) annual endowment, in the amount of 10%, and had discussed it with King Philippe (Prince Laurent’s older brother).
Prince Laurent had previously been banned from unauthorised meetings with senior foreign officials due to his habit of not notifying the government of his excursions. The Prince had met with the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2011 and drew ire from then-Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who threatened his endowment as well.
Prime Minister Michel said that Prince Laurent would be required to answer for his attendance at the Chinese celebrations, where the Prince had posted pictures to Twitter and said that it was a “personal invitation” and “nobody’s business”, in September.
But Prince Laurent, according to Het Laatste Nieuws, sent his lawyer in his stead and has claimed illness to avoid the meeting.
“The Prime Minister intends to at least partially take away his grant of 300,000 euros per year, but wanted to give [Prince] Laurent the opportunity to defend himself,” the newspaper reports.
Prince Laurent has cancelled all appearances in the past couple of months, and skipped the Te Deum for King’s Day, an annual event on the royal calendar that celebrates King Phillipe. His wife, Princess Claire, attended for him.
“Every year Prince Laurent has to list everything he has done for the country to justify an addition of 25,000 euros per month,” the newspaper continues. “Even if the Prince is in good health, that list is very short. In 2017 there will be less on it.”
The newspaper said that Princess Claire’s appearance at the King’s Day Te Deum was a result of the realisation that Prince Laurent could put that activity on his endowment list.
Prime Minister Michel has reportedly said that he will wait until Prince Laurent is in better health to propose a punishment for him.