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Prince Henrik vs Prince Laurent – a battle to discredit constitutional monarchy

Royal Central’s Europe Correspondent, Laura Dekkers, offers her opinions regarding the ongoing antics of Prince Henrik of Denmark and Prince Laurent of Belgium. Who is doing more to discredit constitutional monarchy in Europe?

Recently, two different royals from two different families have made huge fools out of themselves, as well as possibly causing hurt to their families and the institution of monarchy. Both Prince Henrik of Denmark and Prince Laurent of Belgium have created scandal in their respective countries. A lot of people have reacted with disbelief over their actions. But which of these actions have the most consequences going into the future?

Prince Laurent tweeted a picture earlier this month of himself visiting the Chinese Embassy. The Prince was invited to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Army. He is obligated to ask permission for such visits, but obviously, on this occasion, he didn’t feel like doing that. It is not the first time that Laurent pulled such a stunt. He has overstepped the mark three times so far with a meeting with the president of Congo, with diplomats of Libia and Angola and recently a meeting with the president of Sri Lanka. As a member of the royal family, he should ask permission for such meetings as he has to be politically impartial. That’s a rule that counts for every member of the Belgian Royal family, particularly those who receive a generous stipend like Laurent.

Prince Laurent has been warned over and over again for such actions, but last week he posted a picture of his unauthorised visit himself. What does he expect to receive? For the first time he has now received a punishment with a temporary loss of part of his stipend.

The worst part of the unauthorised visit isn’t the fact that it was against the law, but he also caused hurt to his brother the King and his sister Princess Astrid. Being monarch in Belgium is like walking on eggshells. The King makes sure he doesn’t overstep his boundaries because the political climate is not that favourable for the monarchy. But his brother, Prince Laurent, has said before that he doesn’t need to ask permission to make “private visits” to other countries’ embassies etc. The Prime Minister has discussed the punishment with the King. This puts King Philippe in a very uncomfortable position because he has to agree with whatever sanction his brother receives.

His actions also have repercussions on the monarchy as an institution. The Belgians mostly laugh at the antics of Laurent because he has been part of various scandals in his life But what kind of message has Laurent given to the people when he thinks he can do whatever he likes? I believe that it’s better to give a good example to the people and acknoledge that even members of the royal family are not above the law. Laurent thinks he is.

It’s also regrettable for his sister Princess Astrid because she does an excellent job representing her country. Princess Astrid is responsible for the economic missions and does various other official duties as well. She is said to be always well prepared, kind, and very down to earth. She doesn’t like it when people applaud for her when she enters the room and says: “I should applaud for you.” The stipends of Laurent and Astrid are always viewed together as one. If Laurent would lose a part of his donation for good, so would his sister. Various political parties are in favour of reducing the dotations of the King’s siblings. Obviously, Laurent’s antics makes them even more convinced that reducing the donation is the correct thing to do.

And then there is Prince Henrik of Denmark. It’s one thing not wanting to be buried next to your wife, but also stating that she has never respected you in the way that she should is astonishing. I feel as if Prince Henrik doesn’t have any connection with the real world or with the issues that people are concerned about. For years he has been nagging about the fact he doesn’t have the title of King. Instead of talking about his charity work or how excited he is to go on state visits, he uses every media opportunity to say how unfairly he is treated.

I imagine lots of people in Denmark just can’t believe what he has said. He has been living this privileged life for such a long time, and yes he had to fulfil duties, but lots of people work more than eight hours a day. It’s incredible that someone who has nothing to complain about keeps talking about a stupid title. There are so many people that have to work so hard to make little money or women who are not treated equally for the same work. Yet he feels as if he is disrespected by his wife because she didn’t make him King? It seems like the Prince has lost every contact with the rest of the world and it looks like he has been living in his own bubble for far too long.

I feel very sorry for Queen Margrethe who has been insulted first in her role as Queen, but also in her capacity as a wife. He also stated that he loves the Queen very much. I feel that if he loves her so much, that love should be bigger than his ego. Most people think it’s a romantic thing to be laid next to your partner when both of them have passed away. Henrik doesn’t want that because it seems like his ego is in the way. It’s also disrespectful to talk about your wife to the press in the way he did. It undermines Queen Margrethe’s role as a head of state, just as I imagine it hurts her personally as well.

As far as Prince Laurent is concerned, he will probably keep making mistakes and causing scandals because that’s just who he is. He doesn’t want to be told what to do and nobody seems to able to control him. His father couldn’t, his brother can’t, and the government doesn’t seem to be able to influence him either. He needs the extra attention from time to time. Prince Henrik appears to disrespect the monarchy, and he says bad things about his wife. I am afraid he will never get over himself. I feel Prince Henrik is definitely the winner of this battle. Albeit, it is not something to be proud of.

Do you agree with Laura? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below:

About author

Laura is from Belgium and has a passion for all things royal. She is Europe Correspondent for Royal Central since October 2016 and has contributed to other news websites. In her daily life she is a fulltime student in EU-politics and political communication.