Belgium cuts Prince Laurent′s allowance over unauthorized embassy appearance | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 30.03.2018
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Belgium cuts Prince Laurent's allowance over unauthorized embassy appearance

The Belgian government has reduced an allowance paid to Prince Laurent by 15 percent for a year because he committed a diplomatic breach. Laurent has accused the parliament and media of harassing him.

The Belgian parliament on Friday decided to cut the allowance of Prince Laurent, the brother of King Philippe, for having appeared in uniform at a Chinese embassy reception without receiving the necessary government authorization.

In a secret vote held shortly after midnight, the assembly voted 93-23 for the reduction, which will see Laurent's allowance cut by 15 percent for one year.

That pay cut amounts to €46,000 ($56,670).

The controversy dates back to July, when Laurent attended a reception at Beijing's embassy in Brussels without having sought the permission needed from the government for him to appear in an official capacity. Twitter photos he later posted showed him and others ceremonially cutting a cake.

Read more: Belgium seeks caps on public financing for royal family

Letter plea

Shortly before the vote, the parliamentary president read a letter to the parliament in which the prince complained that he was being subjected to "harassment."

The prince wrote that the allowance in question was paid to him in return for spending his life under a number of restrictions.

He said that he had "not been able to work as I wanted, or to start projects that would have allowed my independence."

"[The allowance] ... is the price of a life, the price of my life, which is largely behind me now," Laurent, 54, wrote.

He also complained that he was still being made to pay for having "chosen a wife that I love, without title or fortune" and that he and his family had no access to social security.

Laurent, who has been called the "Rebel Prince" by Belgian media, has drawn attention to himself a number of times for taking unsanctioned diplomatic trips and having contact with Libyan officials under the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

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