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 of King Albert II and Queen Paola, and younger brother of King Philippe.
Born in the 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).
Line of succession
Prince Laurent has been as high as third in line. 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 and were born in a marriage which obtained royal assent (as that of Princess Astrid was deemed to have done pursuant to Title IX Article 1 of the constitution). Henceforth Princess Astrid preceded her younger brother in the line of succession, as do her dynastic descendants. Since then, Prince Philippe married and has dynastic descendants who precede both Astrid and Laurent in the order of succession.
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:
- 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, 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 the promotion 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 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|
|Sovereign Military Order of Malta||Knight of Honour and Devotion (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