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Who is Prince Laurent of Belgium?

Photo: Laura Dekkers

Prince Laurent Benoît Baudouin Marie was born on 19 October 1963 as the third child of the Prince and Princess of Liège (later King Albert and Queen Paola) in Château de Belvédère in Laeken.

At the time of his birth, he was third in the line of succession to the Belgian throne behind his father and older brother, Philippe. However, in 1991, the law of succession in Belgium was changed to allow women (descendants of King Leopold I) to have equal right of succession. As such, his older sister, Astrid and her children passed Laurent in the line of succession. He currently ranks 12th.

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The Prince was educated first at Pius X College in French and then at both Royal Cadet High School (in French) and Royal Military Academy following his elder brother to the latter. He then followed in his father’s footsteps and served in the military where he specialised in diving and helicopter piloting.

Prince Laurent became Commander of the Navy on 15 November 1994 and later travelled to the United States for internships in “pharmaceutical, aeronautical and leisure sectors” and “the International Monetary Fund, at the World Bank and at the United Nations,” according to the Belgian Monarchy.

After returning to Belgium, he spent time at the European Commission where he “participated in a reflection on the quality of life and the environment” later earning Emile Noël Prize for his work.

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Laurent married British-born, but Belgian-raised, Claire Coombs on 12 April 2003 in Brussels; she became Princess Claire upon her marriage. Together, they have three children: Princess Louise (b. 6 February 2004) and twins, Princes Nicolas and Aymeric (b. 13 December 2005).

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Prince Laurent has become a sort of “black sheep” in the Belgian Royal Family. His name was involved in a corruption scandal in 2006-2007, and his father, King Albert decreed that allowed for Laurent to be questioned in the corruption trial (involving illegal funds being used to renovate his mansion). He was questioned by federal police and testified at trial asserting that he had no idea illegal funds were involved.

“When my confidant, whom I fully trusted, assured me that he would take care of my furnishings via the navy, I thought that was done legitimately,” he said at the time. Laurent was not charged with any wrongdoing.

He has also raised eyebrows in 2011 visiting the Congo (former Belgian colony) without proper permission from the government, later had his monthly allowance taken after attending a Chinese embassy reception without government permission in 2017, and took a phone call during the national anthem during National Day festivities in 2019.

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The Prince’s passion lies with animal welfare, and he set up the Prince Laurent Foundation in 1995 of which he is the President. He also serves as the Chairman of the European Research Group for Alternatives in Toxicity Testing (ERGATT) and the Honorary President of the National Orchestra of Belgium.

Prince Laurent still undertakes duties on behalf of the Crown and his brother, the King and appears at family functions.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.