Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prince Philippe strikes back

A new book about the Belgian royal family is causing a great stir in Belgium.  The book, Question royale,  was written by journalist Frederic Deborsu, who apparently had made a lot of claims about the Belgian royal family, without actually verifying his sources.

Among other scandalous statements, Deborsu claims that the heir to the throne, Prince Philippe, prefers men to women,  and because of this, his marriage to Mathilde d'Udeckem d'Acoz was arranged and all four of their children were conceived by artificial insemination.  The Erasmus Hospital in Brussels where all four children were born apparently specializes in IVF.

Deborsu also claims Mathilde benefited from her marriage, as her father, Patrick, who was raised to rank of count on her wedding day, had serious financial issues.

The Duke of Brabant has now decided to hit back at Deborsu's claims.  "The day Mathilde said yes to my marriage proposal was the happiest day of my life.  Since that day our four children have surrounded us with love which we return in abundance."

During a recent trip to Turkey, the Duke and Duchess of Brabant spoke to the press.  The Duke said "Love is like a verb.  You get to work at it each day."  Princess Mathilde responded:  "Philippe, you're my best friend. I have 100% confidence in you."  

Deborsu told the press:  "I am reliable.  I can fall back on twenty years of experience as an investigative journalists.  I regret my sources are anonymous witnesses. If I had named them, no one would have doubted the credibility of my book."

In the decade or so before Prince Philippe's marriages journalists and others did write about the prince's alleged lack of suitably as heir.  Some said the real reason for the change in the succession law (from Salic to gender equality) was to allow Philippe's sister, Princess Astrid, married to Archduke Lorenz of Austria.  To further ensure Astrid's position, Lorenz was created Prince of Belgium.  Their children are also Princes and Princesses of Belgium.

In the 1980s, there were reports in the Times (of London) and other more reliable newspapers that King Baudouin wanted the throne to pass to his nephew, Philippe, because he believed his brother, the Prince of Liege was not suitable or prepared to be king. 

Philippe did not marry until he was 38 years old.  I do not recall any articles reporting on a romance between Philippe and Mathilde, and that the engagement announcement was a total surprise.

For the record, I am not jumping on Deborsu's bandwagon  But his claims about Philippe as the future king are not new, and were oft-reported long before his marriage. 

I also think it is easy to quickly dismiss something perceived as "scandal."  Consider all the recriminations that came out of Andrew Morton's books on the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Morton also used anonymous sources.  We now know Morton did not write with forked tongue.

This book has been published in Dutch and French editions.  The book is not available in English.


Laura said...

Not saying that any of the rumors are true... but, even if they were/are, what's the big deal in having an arranged marriage if all of the parties are happy and content?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

I think the author is suggesting that Philippe is gay and he only married because of family pressure, and Mathilde agreed because her father was in financial difficulty, and RF would make the bills go away.

Kalnel said...

A bit of hypothetical curiosity: If they had not changed the succession rules and neither Philippe nor Laurent produced male heirs, who would be the next heir? Leopold I doesn't have any other direct-line male heirs, does he?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

hypothetical. don't know ... but equally hypotheically .. they would have changed the succession if there were no male heirs :)

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the suitability of Albert also constantly in gossip? Somethign about Baudouin preferring Philippe to his brother?? It seems the rumour mills continue..

juan said...

What that man wrote is a stupidity.
I think some people have interest to discredit Belgian monarchy. To say Belgian princes were born with medical help is ridiculous.
That man is a crazy like Lady Colin Campbell in United Kingdom who wrote Queen Elizabeth II was born as well with medical help and The Queen Mother was really daugther of her family´s cook.
Nobody is Spain knew Prince Felipe of Spain was getting married to Letizia Ortiz till the Royal Household announced the engagement, that was for privacy reason, the same Prince Phillipe and Mathilde.

evan said...

As the book isn't yet available in English, I won't get to read it, but the parts about the hormones & testicular removal sound like utter rubbish.
If he is gay, who cares? The Duchess of Brabant & their children seem happy & content. Who are we to judge?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

the book won't be published in English so we have to depend on what is being said in Dutch and in French, apart form a few English-language articles.

tjmooney said...

All I take away from this is...that must have been very chilly.

julaine said...

It is beyond belief that the heir to any throne would be allowed to undergo gender reassignment surgery for more reasons than I can count. I would be very unlikely to believe any anonymous sources that came up with such an outrageous story. As to rather the Crown Prince and Mathilde's marriage was arranged or his sexual preferences, or even how their children were conceived, I consider these topics to fall under the topic of private matters. These private matters don't impact their ability to perform their public duties or even indicate the level of happiness they may feel in their marriage or their lives. It's their business.At best it's gossip, at worst it's exploitive and damaging to the four children that are going to eventually hear about this. This type of tabloid journalism may be profitable but it still immoral.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Where there is smoke, there's fire. I am more inclined to believe the arranged marriage story, and less inclined to believe a story about gender reassignment and frozen testicles. Unfortunately, as has been seen in other countries, including the UK, the royals are not exempt from tabloid speculation. This is also not the first slam against the Belgian royals.

Anonymous said...

You really considered - if even for a moment - that the hormone therapy story could be true?! It was not part of the book but was posted on a satirical blog and that says it all. If I were you I would re-write my entry asap. Goes to show that one cannot believe everything that is written in royal forums or books for that matter without checking. ;) Also, the journalist who wrote the book totally ruined his reputation now and came across as attention-seeking weirdo on his PR stunts. He had NO proof for any of his major allegations. I completly agree with Juan. Brilliant post and yes Lady Colin Campbell comes to mind.