Prince Laurent: "I'm not thinking of giving up my grant"

Some confusion surrounds the position of Prince Laurent, King Albert's youngest son, with regard to his wishes to retain the monies that he receives from the public purse to fulfil his royal role. In an interview in the daily De Standaard the prince insists that he has no thought of giving up his grant, while earlier, his lawyer and advisor Pierre Legros told the weekly Humo that he was considering this step.

The prince's grant came under scrutiny after it emerged that he had travelled to Congo against the wishes of his father and the Belgian Government. Premier Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat) also set an ultimatum: the prince either had to accept his royal role or give up his grant. On Monday the Palace made an exceptional move and distanced itself from the prince.

In De Standaard Prince Laurent responds to the reported words of his advisor. The prince says: "I would be surprised if he said that. I've never said anything like that. You know how it goes. Journalists write anything they like. I don't need to explain to you how journalists work!"

Royal expert Mark Van den Wijngaert believes that even if the prince gives up his grant, the Belgian royal house could still get into difficulty. The academic suggested that the debate about the future of the prince's grant will now gain pace: "Several years ago the Senate decided that Astrid (King Albert's daughter) and Laurent would both lose their grant when the new king ascended the throne. It could be an option to implement this intention sooner, unless Laurent decides to take an initiative himself and give up the grant as Prince Karel (King Albert's uncle) once did".

Mark Van den Wijngaert thinks that Laurent giving up his grant would not solve all the royals' problems: "Without the grant Laurent gains greater freedom, but this too could weigh on the royal house as Laurent remains a Prince of Belgium."