On March 29, the Belgian parliament was to vote on a proposal by the Government to reduce Prince Laurent of Belgium’s funding.
The government’s proposal came after Prince Laurent met with Chinese officials in July 2017 without the government’s permission which is against a 2013 law that states that member of the royal family can’t meet with foreign officials without the government’s permission. The same 2013 law also gives Parliament the possibility to reduce the amount of money given each year to members of The Royal Family.
In order to convince the Parliament to vote against this proposal, Prince Laurent wrote an emotional letter that was presented during the session. In this letter, he blames his status as a member of the royal family and says his family and politics have prevented him to live his life like he wanted.
He wrote: “Most of them do not know, and many pretend to have forgotten: since my early youth my existence was put at the service of my brother, my family, and the State. I did not work as I wanted, nor did I work out projects that could have offered me some independence. I even had to ask permission to marry, and to this day I am paid, that I married a woman whom I love, but has no title or fortune. That endowment, which people say they want to limit or abolish in function of political or media winds, is the price of a life, the price of my life, one that is already behind me for a large part.”
“Of course I am not flawless, and I am the first to be aware of the fact that people who have much less than I undergo an even harder fate. But I do not think that another citizen of this country was instrumentalized with such stubbornness throughout his life, and his projects constantly thwarted by his family and by “gross negligence” of some political authorities, as the Court of Cassation recently confirmed.”
He also said that this decision would cause ‘serious, difficult damage to repair’.
Unfortunately for Prince Laurent, his letter did not convince most of the members of Parliament as 93 voted for the proposal, 23 voted against and 10 abstained.
MP Sonja Becq said: “We ask citizens to respect rules. This also applies to members of the royal family. They must fulfill their commitments.” Another MP, Patrick Dewael, expressed the same sentiment: “Members of the royal family are not obliged to request donation. (…) The Prince must not be in self-pity.”
Comparisons have also been made with Prince Laurent’s sister, Princess Astrid who also receives money and represents the royal family in a lot of events: “His sister gets a donation and respects (the rules of conduct).There are rules. If you want to respect them, they are sufficiently clear. ”
This means that Prince Laurent will lose 15% of his donation next year so approximatively 46,000€. Until now, Prince Laurent received 307 000€ from the government each year.
This was not the first time the Prince was criticized for similar events, such as diplomatic contacts with Libya or a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo without the government’s permission in 2011.