"A feudal regime in which the Duke of Brabant grants mercy to rapists"

Belgium's largest political party, the Flemish nationalist N-VA, has formulated its views on the future of the monarchy following King Albert's surprise announcement that he is abdicating.

The republican party says that the monies that King Albert's youngest legitimate children, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent, receive from the public purse should be cut by twenty percent a year so that within five years nothing will be left.

In future the N-VA only wants the head of state and his or her surviving partner to receive a grant from the civil list. This grant should not exceed the before tax wages of the prime minister. The heir to the throne should not get more than a government minister.

Opposition lawmaker Theo Francken recognised the efforts made by the federal government aimed at reforming the civil list system, but insisted a long road still lay ahead: "The king being the head of the armed forces is an outdated concept. Belgium operates within the NATO framework, while we are still in a feudal regime in which the Duke of Brabant grants mercy to thieves and rapists. It's like a strip cartoon."

The N-VA is proposing setting up a parliamentary working party that can prepare constitutional reform of the monarchy.

In a separate development the N-VA has poured cold water on the idea launched by the Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters for the Flemish leader to have a weekly meeting with the new king of the Belgians. N-VA is on the opposition benches in the federal parliament, but forms part of the Flemish coalition government.