Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is Prince Laurent about to lose his appanage?

The Flemish newspaper, De Morgen, is reporting that Prince Laurent of Belgium, has been involved with "environmental projects in Angola.  According to the article, neither the Belgian government nor the Palace were informed.

Prince Laurent has allegedly made contacts with diplomats in Angola as the country is interested in renewable energy products developed by Laurent's Foundation.

This action, if true, would be a serious violation of Prince Laurent's agreement with the government and the palace regarding his activities.  In 2011, he got into trouble after traveling to the Congo and Angola, on his own, and establishing ties with Libyan rebels.

Prince Laurent received a lot of negative press because of these actions. He was forced to agree with the then Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, that he would consult with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before getting involved with anything political or developmental projects.

In other words, Prince Laurent's public role would be supervised by the government.  Laurent would also be required to inform the Belgian government of his activities, or he would lose his annual appanage of 300,000 Euros. (This appanage is not a salary, but goes toward the prince's official duties and the running of his household, such as the paying of staff salaries.)

The projects run by the Prince's foundation must be approved by the government.  However, the Prince has apparently not informed the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor his father, King Albert II, about his current activities.

One anonymous expert told De Morgen: "Does Laurent really have the expertise to develop energy projects in Luanda, a city that has more than 5 million people?"

The Palace acknowledged that they were not informed of the new (alleged) activities in Angola.    Prince Laurent has not offered a comment, but his lawyer, Pierre Legros, is refuting the facts in the De Morgen article.  "Everything is wrong. "To my knowledge, the prince has had no political or diplomatic contacts with Angola.  He has kept his commitment vis-a-vis with the agreement with Prime Minister Leterme in 2011.  When he travels abroad as a part of a mission that can have implications for Belgium, he informs the Foreign Office, even when he has contacts in Belgium with accredited persons.  Soon."

The lawyer argues that there is no reason to deprive Laurent of his appanage.  "They are trying to find something, when there is nothing."

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