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article imageBelgian prince risks allowance cut over Chinese contacts

By AFP     Aug 7, 2017 in Politics

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel is taking action that could cut Prince Laurent's allowance after the tearaway younger brother of King Philippe met Chinese officials without official consent, government sources said Monday.

Prince Laurent, 53, was photographed wearing a military uniform last month while attending the 90th anniversary of the Chinese army at Beijing's embassy in Brussels -- a photo he himself tweeted.

Michel, who met with the king earlier Monday, "announced he would launch a sanction procedure" against Prince Laurent which could lead to a reduction in his annual allowance of 308,000 euros ($363,000), a government source said.

Royal family members are required to obtain consent from the Belgian government for any meetings with foreign dignitaries, something the source said the prince had not received.

"It is in cooperation with the king that Charles Michel took the decision to ask for a penalty," the royal palace told the Belga news agency.

Sometimes referred to as the "Prince Maudit" -- the Cursed Prince -- Laurent is widely reported to suffer from depression.

Fined several times for speeding and chided for fraternising with African leaders without the government's consent, Laurent has long been considered the "enfant terrible" of the Belgian royal family.

The prince made headlines in 2013 when he was hospitalised with internal injuries after falling while skiing in Austria.

But he is also seen as a likeable figure, if something of an oddball, as an animal lover who recently confessed he wished he could "converse with an octopus or a fly."

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