Prince Laurent in 2015
|Born||19 October 1963|
Belvédère Castle, Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
|Father||Albert II of Belgium|
|Mother||Paola Ruffo di Calabria|
Prince Laurent of Belgium (French: Laurent Benoît Baudouin Marie, Dutch: Laurens Benedikt Boudewijn Maria; born 19 October 1963) is the second son and youngest child of King Albert II and Queen Paola, and younger brother of King Philippe.
Laurent's involvement with animal welfare and the environment, together with a relative lack of interest in protocol, has caused him to be dubbed by elements of the popular Belgian press as écolo-gaffeur (the eco-blunderer). Currently, he is 13th in the Belgian line of succession. He had been as high as third in line, but the constitution was amended in 1991 to extend an equal right of succession to women, putting him behind his sister, Princess Astrid, and her descendants.
Prince Laurent and Claire Louise Coombs were married in Brussels on 12 April 2003. Coombs was also given the title of Princess of Belgium upon her marriage. The couple have three children: Princess Louise (born 6 February 2004), Prince Nicolas and Prince Aymeric (born 13 December 2005). The family live in Villa Clementine, in Tervuren.
Prince Laurent is also a godfather to Princess Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, the daughter of Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro, a current pretender to the former throne of Two Sicilies and his wife, Princess Camilla, Duchess of Castro.
In December 2006, Prince Laurent's name surfaced in a corruption scandal in which funds of the Belgian Navy were spent on his residence (Villa Clémentine) in Tervuren. Although the investigating magistrates denied that Laurent was personally implicated, some of the accused have implicated the prince in the press.
On 5 January 2007, it became known that King Albert II had signed a royal decree, making it possible for Laurent to be called up as a witness in the corruption trial which was to start 8 January. One of the defendants immediately used this to subpoena the prince. During the evening of 8 January, Prince Laurent was interrogated by federal police, appearing in court the following day where he testified at the trial that he had no reason to believe the funding of his renovations could be illegal.
Media reports in March 2007 suggested that Laurent was no longer welcome at the Royal Palace, possibly due to his role in the corruption scandal.
Against this, defenders claim that there is some tradition in the Belgian press and among politicians to focus on shortcomings among members of the Belgian Royal Family. For example, King Philippe has been pursued for what may be no more than lack of dexterity among some of his advisers; and Lilian, Princess of Réthy (1916-2002) had in her younger days been pursued by some deputies who turned parliamentary sessions into debates about her necklines.
In March 2011, the prince visited the former Belgian colony of the Congo without receiving the required permission; the reported purpose of the visit was to promote awareness of deforestation. As a result, on 9 April he accepted conditions laid down by Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme regarding his future activities; had he not done so, the matter of his annual appanage would have been in question.
In March 2014, Prince Laurent was hospitalised with pneumonia and depression. He was voluntarily placed in a medically-induced coma on March 25, and was awakened on 27 March. On 4 April, Queen Paola stated in a letter that Laurent's condition was improving, and that she felt he was 'the most vulnerable' of her three children.
Source : www.monarchie.be, Prince Laurent