The son of the King of Belgium, Prince Laurent, is implicated in a scandal involving the misuse of state funds. According to reports in the Belgian press, he was bought gifts by friends in the military who are to stand trial for fraud in January. The money was allegedly taken from the naval budget via forged documents.
A former advisor to the Prince has said Laurent “was aware of the system to support him.” The Belgian government has refused to confirm this but says he will be subject to investigation. “There is no legal immunity for a prince but he will be presumed innocent until proven guilty, just like anyone else,” said Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders. “Once all the details are made clear after a judicial decision is made, of course we will take steps to get the money back if needs be.”
It is not the first time Prince Laurent has courted controversy and the chairman of Belgium’s Socialist Party Johan Vandelanotte is determined that everything be made clear. “It is always terrible for a royal family to be mixed up in scandal but it is even worse if it gets covered up,” he said. A lover of fast cars, the Prince reportedly enjoys an expensive lifestyle. Despite a state income of nearly 300,000 euros, he “can hardly buy food for himself at the end of the month,” according to a former aide.