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European Royals

King’s brother wonders why monarchs still exist in 21st century and says some royal rules are ”medieval”

In an interview to mark his upcoming 60th birthday, Prince Laurent used his time to reflect on his life as a royal and ponder why modern society even has monarchies.

In a wide-ranging interview with cartoonist Marec of the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Laurent shared that life in the Belgian Royal Family is difficult because “there are rules and customs that are different from those in society. For me there were more rules, I always had to adapt.”

He added: “A royal family is based on a structure that predates the Middle Ages. But that structure has not been adapted enough so far, you could say that I live somewhere in the Middle Ages. And everything happens according to the first, the eldest, my brother.”

Laurent then elaborated, saying that some of his distant relatives, the elder son or heir, had the greater allowance while their younger siblings had less. “I think it’s rude that those rules from the Middle Ages still exist, society has evolved.”

When asked what he thought of Belgium’s more modest monarchy in comparison to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, he said: “What I don’t understand is that society should always have such a figure above society. A president, a prime minister, a king. Why can’t we just live together and be complementary?”

The prince, youngest child of King Albert II and Queen Paola, turns 60 on 19 October. He said that it would be “a moment to finally start my life, that is one of my dreams.”

He also said he hoped that his wife, Princess Claire, and his three children, will be able to access social security because “they are entitled to that, that is not an exaggeration, is it? I ask for no favoritism, no special treatment, no favors in return. I simply ask that people follow the law. That’s all.”

As to how he’d like to be remembered someday by his children and grandchildren, Laurent said, “I would like them to say about me: He was concerned about the environment, he did something for it.”

He also stated his wish to retire from public life, saying that he’d remain available to people who mean well, but that he’d like to disappear. “Look, I’m not important. My message is: soon I will be out of here, then I will have disappeared, I will almost no longer exist.”

But he added that he that he hopes his message remains: that people need to “forgive, to support. And I hope that politicians understand that message… I don’t sell hashish, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t sell weapons or drugs, I do something for the common good, for example the environment. Let me do it, that’s all.”

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.