Parliamentarians from the co-ruling Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats and Christian Democratic and Flemish parties, expressed support on Monday for the call by Prime Minister Charles Michel to sanction Prince Laurent. “We cannot continue to simply blame him,” the CD&V’s Servais Verherstraeten said. The sanction would encourage the prince to conform to the rules, “otherwise we shall have to envisage a review of the entire endowment”, Luk Van Biesen (Open Vld) stated.
The two parliamentarians referred to the regulatory framework set up after previous incidents. It calls on members of the royal family who receive an endowment to exercise caution. “This law, which was adopted within the framework of the Sixth State Reform, also provides for sanctions,” noted Verherstraeten, who was Secretary of State for State Reform from 2011 to 2014. “We shall have to examine in Parliament whether the sanction is proportional to the incident,” Van Biesen indicated.
Prime Minister Michel said on Monday afternoon that he planned to impose a “proportional sanction” on Prince Laurent, younger brother of Belgium’s King Philip, after he was photographed in late July in the Embassy of China at a ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese army. The law on endowments stipulates that the Prince may not meet foreign dignitaries without the authorization of the Government, Michel recalled.
Just before the Prime Minister spoke on the possible sanction, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the third Flemish partner in the ruling coalition, had advocated the suspension of the Prince’s endowment, estimated at 308,000 euros per year.