The youngest son of Belgium’s King Albert II has been giving evidence in a fraud trial in Flanders that has raised questions about public funding of the royal family. Prince Laurent, 11th in line to the throne and a navy captain, is testifying for the defence of a former aide, a retired naval officer. He has been charged over the alleged embezzlement of 2.2 million euros from the military.
Fifteen people – all former officers or businessmen -are on trial. Prosecutors allege some of the funds were used illegally to renovate Prince Laurent’s official residence, but no one has suggested he knew where they money came from. Several politicians have called for an inquiry into how the he received public money before he was officially put on the royal payroll in 2001. Laurent has been a target of the tabloid press over his lifestyle and is portrayed as the black sheep of the royal family.