Prince Laurent of Belgium
|Born||19 October 1963|
Belvédère Castle, Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
Claire Coombs (m. 2003)
|Father||Albert II of Belgium|
|Mother||Paola Ruffo di Calabria|
Prince Laurent of Belgium
|Reference style||His Royal Highness|
Prince Laurent of Belgium (French: Laurent Benoît Baudouin Marie, Dutch: Laurens Benedikt Boudewijn Maria; born 19 October 1963) is the second son of King Albert II and Queen Paola, and younger brother of King Philippe.
Laurent's 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). Currently, he is 12th in the Belgian line of succession. He had been as high as third in line, but the constitution was amended in 1991 to extend an equal right of succession to women who descend from the dynasty's founder King Leopold I put him behind Princess Astrid and her descendants.
Early life and education
Marriage and children
Prince Laurent and 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:
- Princess Louise (born 6 February 2004 at Saint Luc University Hospital in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert)
- Prince Nicolas (born 13 December 2005 at Saint Luc University Hospital in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert)
- Prince Aymeric (born 13 December 2005 at Saint Luc University Hospital in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert)
Prince Laurent is also a godfather to Princess Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Two Siclies, the daughter of Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro, a current pretender to the former throne of Two Sicilies and his wife, Princess Camilla, Duchess of Castro.
Alleged corruption scandal
In December 2006, Prince Laurent's name surfaced in a corruption scandal in which funds of the Belgian Navy were spent on his residence (Villa Clémentine) in Tervuren. Although the investigating magistrates denied 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 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, Prince Laurent was interrogated by federal police, appearing in court the following day where he testified at the trial that he had no reason to believe 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, King Philippe has been pursued for what may be no more than lack of dexterity among some of his advisers; and Lilian, 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 required permission; the reported purpose of the visit was to promote awareness of deforestation. As a result, on 9 April he accepted conditions laid down by Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme regarding his future activities; had he not done so, the matter of his annual appanage 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 he was awakened on 27 March. On 4 April, Queen Paola stated in a letter that Laurent's condition was improving, and that she felt he was 'the most vulnerable' of her three children.
Titles, styles and honours
- His Royal Highness Prince Laurent of Belgium (1963–present)
- Germany: Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
- Hungary: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
- Two Sicilian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Two Sicilian Royal Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Knight Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, 3rd First Class
- Luxembourg: Grand Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown
- Norway: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Infante Henry
- Spain: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit
- Sweden: Commander Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Polar Star
Source : www.monarchie.be, Prince Laurent
- [permanent dead link]
- "Belgium turns critical eye to monarchy - CNN.com". 12 January 2007.
- "No longer welcome". flandersnews.be. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2007-03-28.[dead link]
- "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 4 October 2008.
- "Le prince Laurent a été placé en coma artificiel [French]". Le Soir.
- "Le Prince Laurent a reçu la visite du père Gilbert et est réveillé". 27 March 2014.
- "News report". www.wort.lu.
- http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.16799.1313679534!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/gallery_635/gal-royal-wedding-belgium-claire-laurent-jpg.jpg Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
- Bremner, Charles. "Belgium's 'Duke of York': buffoon or man out of control?".
- "Hungary?s President Laszlo Solyom on State Visit to Belgium Day 1".
- "Senior Constantinian knight, HRH Prince Laurent of Belgium, marries British-born Claire Coombs - Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George". 26 April 2003.
- "Photo" (PDF). www.senate.be.
- "Dutch Royal Family Make State Visit To Belgium - Day 1".
- "Norwegian State Visit To Belgium".
- http://9.t.cdn.belga.be/picture:3693718:preview:watermark Archived 2012-03-31 at the Wayback Machine
- "Portuguese State Visit To Belgium".
- Royal Decree 783/2000. BOE no. 115, 13 May 2000, p. 17722
- http://8.t.cdn.belga.be/picture:471646:preview:watermark Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
- http://3.t.cdn.belga.be/picture:20854758:preview:watermark Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
- Confirmed by Dr. Gustaaf Janssens, archivist of the Royal Palace
Prince Laurent of BelgiumBorn: 19 October 1963
|Lines of succession|
Princess Laetitia Maria
| Succession to the Belgian throne
12th in line