Prince Laurent of Belgium
Prince Laurent of Belgium (French: Laurent Benoît Baudouin Marie de Belgique, Dutch: Laurens Benedikt Boudewijn Maria van België; born 19 October 1963) is the second son and youngest child of King Albert II and Queen Paola. He's also the younger brother of King Philippe.
Born in Château de Belvédère, near Laeken, Belgium, he was educated at the Royal Cadet High School and at the Royal Military Academy. He was promoted to the rank of Ship-of-the-Line Captain on 26 June 2004.
Prince Laurent is president of the Royal Institute for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Promotion of Clean Technologies and president of the Prince Laurent Foundation for the Welfare of Domestic and Wild Animals. As of 2008, Prince Laurent is an ambassador for Future Harvest, a Washington, D.C., based agricultural research association. His involvement with animal welfare and the environment, together with a relative lack of interest in protocol, has caused him to be dubbed by elements of the popular Belgian press as 'écolo-gaffeur' (the eco-blunderer).
At this time he is 11th in the line of succession to the throne of Belgium.
Place in succession
Prince Laurent used to be third-in-line to the throne, but this changed when the constitution was altered so that women would enjoy the same succession rights as men. A rumour has it that this was done at the instigation of King Baudouin I, who is said to have disliked Laurent because he did not share the King's strict religious views. He is now 11th-in-line to the Belgian throne.
Marriage and children
Prince Laurent and Miss Claire Louise Coombs, born in Bath, England, but living in Belgium since childhood, were married in Brussels on 12 April 2003. Miss Coombs was also given the title of Princess of Belgium upon her marriage. The couple have three children:
- Her Royal Highness Princess Louise Sophie Mary (born 6 February 2004)
- His Royal Highness Prince Nicolas Casimir Marie (born 13 December 2005)
- His Royal Highness Prince Aymeric Auguste Marie (born 13 December 2005)
Prince Laurent is also a godfather to Princess Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Two Siclies, the daughter of Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro, who is the current pretender to the former throne of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and his wife, Princess Camilla, Duchess of Castro.
Dr. Gustaaf Janssens, archivist of the Royal Palace, confirms that HRH Prince Laurent's coat of arms as a prince of Belgium consists of his father, the King Albert's coat of arms with a gold/yellow label of three points, minus the sceptres and Grand Collar of the Order of Leopold and the helm facing to the left [heraldic dexter].
Involvement in corruption scandal
In December 2006, Laurent's name surfaced in a corruption scandal in which funds of the Belgian Navy were spent on the Prince's villa (Villa Clémentine) in Tervuren. Although the investigating magistrates deny that Laurent was personally implicated, some of the accused have implicated the Prince in the press.
On 5 January 2007, it became known that King Albert II had signed a special royal decree, making it possible for Laurent to be called up as a witness in the corruption trial which was to start 8 January. One of the defendants immediately used this to subpoena the Prince. During the evening of 8 January, the Prince was interrogated by the federal police and appeared in court the following day, where he testified at the corruption trial that he had no reason to suspect the funding of his renovations could be illegal.
Media reports in March 2007 suggested that Laurent was no longer welcome at the Royal Palace, possibly due to his role in the corruption scandal.
Against this, defenders claim that there is some tradition in the Belgian press and among politicians to focus on shortcomings among members of the Belgian Royal Family. For example, Laurent's elder brother, Philippe of Belgium!King Philippe has been pursued for what may be no more than lack of dexterity among some of his advisers; and the Princess of Réthy (1916–2002) had in her younger days been pursued by some deputies who turned parliamentary sessions into debates about her necklines.
In March 2011, the prince visited the former Belgian colony of the Congo without receiving the necessary permissions; the reported purpose of the visit was the promotion of deforestation. As a result, on 9 April he accepted conditions laid down by the Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme regarding his future activities; had he not done so, the matter of his annual apanage would have been in question.
In March 2014, Prince Laurent was hospitalised with pneumonia and depression.  He was voluntarily placed in a medically-induced coma on March 25, although was woken up on March 27.  On 4 April, Queen Paola stated in a letter that Laurent's condition was improving, and also that she felt he was 'the most vulnerable' of her three children.
Titles and styles
- His Royal Highness Prince Laurent of Belgium (1963–present)
|Belgium (Orders)||Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold|
|Orders of sovereign states|
|Germany (Orders)||Grand-Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1998)|||
|Hungary (Order)||Grand-Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Civilian Class (2008)||(1 2)|
|Luxembourg (Orders)||Grand-Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau (1999)|
|Netherlands (Orders)||Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown* (2006)||Photo|
|Norway (Orders)||Grand-Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit (20/05/2003)||(1, 2)|
|Portugal (Orders)||Grand-Cross of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique* (2005)||Photo|
|Spain (Orders)||Grand-Cross of the Order of Civil Merit (12/05/2000)||Photo|
|Sweden (Orders)||Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star* (2001)||Photo|
|SMOM||Knight of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (1998)|
Source : www.monarchie.be, Prince Laurent
- "No longer welcome". flandersnews.be. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2007-03-28.[dead link]
- Royal News April 2011
- "Le prince Laurent a été placé en coma artificiel [French]". Le Soir.
- Belga Pictures, State visit of President Herzog in Belgium (1998), Group Photo - ribbon :
Prince Laurent of BelgiumBorn: 19 October 1963
|Lines of succession|
Archduchess Laetitia Maria of Austria-Este
|Line of succession to the Belgian throne
Princess Louise of Belgium