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  #121  
Old 04-04-2014, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by GracieGiraffe View Post
I think putting out this statement and referring to Laurent as her most "vulnerable" child is going to lead to even more speculation about his condition than if they simply returned to Belgium to visit a son in hospital.
As to those pointing out that Laurent is an adult, you are of course correct. However, the discussion about his relationship with his parents is an offshoot of his having been taken ill, hospitalised and put in an induced coma during which time there was no contact from his parents.

That he is not a perfect son is irrelevant to this situation. However, the length of his coma and the silence from his parents is what has raised more than a few eyebrows and fuelled the fire of gossip and speculation as to what type of parents he has. Had they presented a united front with their other children and returned home just to support the family no one would have seen any problem.

Did not King Albert abdicate in a swirl of adverse publicity regarding, among other things, his private life? Did he not throw his toys out of the cot over his stipend from the goverment and boycott any official events? This when he has a considerable private fortune?

These circumstances lead people to wonder if they ever knew the real King Albert who enjoyed a charmed life from the media until unsavoury information came to light. This apparent indifference to the growing health crisis with his youngest son has made people look at both he and his wife, Queen Paola, in a whole new way.

The latest attempt to shift some sort of blame or culpability to the new King, their own eldest son, is really ugly as are the unsubtle hints in Paola's news releases that Laurent is in some way mentally "vulnerable". He was in a coma which sort of nixes that argument.
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  #122  
Old 04-04-2014, 01:33 AM
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As to those pointing out that Laurent is an adult, you are of course correct. However, the discussion about his relationship with his parents is an offshoot of his having been taken ill, hospitalised and put in an induced coma during which time there was no contact from his parents.

That he is not a perfect son is irrelevant to this situation. However, the length of his coma and the silence from his parents is what has raised more than a few eyebrows and fuelled the fire of gossip and speculation as to what type of parents he has. Had they presented a united front with their other children and returned home just to support the family no one would have seen any problem.

Did not King Albert abdicate in a swirl of adverse publicity regarding, among other things, his private life? Did he not throw his toys out of the cot over his stipend from the goverment and boycott any official events? This when he has a considerable private fortune?

These circumstances lead people to wonder if they ever knew the real King Albert who enjoyed a charmed life from the media until unsavoury information came to light. This apparent indifference to the growing health crisis with his youngest son has made people look at both he and his wife, Queen Paola, in a whole new way.

The latest attempt to shift some sort of blame or culpability to the new King, their own eldest son, is really ugly as are the unsubtle hints in Paola's news releases that Laurent is in some way mentally "vulnerable". He was in a coma which sort of nixes that argument.
100% agree.
As I said before, the media kind of put a veil over Albert and Paola when they became monarchs but the details of their lives before it happened speak volumes about their behavior and how they have always been as people.
Now that they are out of power, they are trying to retain it but Philippe won't budge, so things might get even messier because of the selfishness of his parents, who want everything: no work, lots of money and still be media darlings.
They are willing to throw virtually anyone (as shown with their two sons) under the bus to achieve that.
Simply selfish.
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  #123  
Old 04-04-2014, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by camelot23ca View Post

I know many are proponents of modern royal families and their open communication, (and I like hearing news as much as anyone), but I still think "when in doubt, say nothing" can be a good guideline in difficult times.
Excellent observation!

Indeed, Swiss diplomacy seems to be built upon it.
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  #124  
Old 04-04-2014, 03:04 AM
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According to the 'Standaard' it is likely that prince Laurent will become Goodwill ambassador for the World Food Organisation of the UN.

Prins Laurent wordt goodwillambassadeur - De Standaard

According to het Nieuwsblad, an employee & trusted friend of Albert & Paola, Vincent Pardoen, issued the letter. Pardoen says that he handed out the letter for approval to the palace, as was customary when A+P were king and queen themselves and when Baudoun was king. The palace however did not want to release the letter to the press. This means that the higher officials at the court did know about the letter, but it is unknown if they notified king Filip about it. However, the statement that the palace knew nothing seems false.
Medewerker ex-koningin verspreidde brief ondanks uitdrukk... - Het Nieuwsblad

-
Again: I highly doubt that Paola 'throws her sons under a bus' for selfish reasons only. She doesn't strike me as a complete monster. And let's face it, before she issued the statement there was a lot of speculation about Laurent's health too (see first pages of this thread for example). Her letter didn't change that. She doesn't strike me as the sharpest knife in the drawer, but again I highly doubt that this is all an evil plot to make the lives of her sons as difficult as possible, as some seem to suggest.

I actually do not agree with a complete silence. Sometimes it is better to give an honest view of what is the case. For example the Dutch court has been relatively open about Prince Bernhard Jr.s' cancer, Prince Friso's illness and in the 80-ties about the depressions of Prince Claus. If anything it prevented wild rumours to spread.

Note that seperate lines of communications isn't only a problem when a monarch abdicates as some say. The prince of Wales has his own press department as well, one which sometimes went against directly against the strategy of Buckingham Palace.
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  #125  
Old 04-04-2014, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Marengo View Post
According to the 'Standaard' it is likely that prince Laurent will become Goodwill ambassador for the World Food Organisation of the UN.

Prins Laurent wordt goodwillambassadeur - De Standaard

According to het Nieuwsblad, an employee & trusted friend of Albert & Paola, Vincent Pardoen, issued the letter. Pardoen says that he handed out the letter for approval to the palace, as was customary when A+P were king and queen themselves and when Baudoun was king. The palace however did not want to release the letter to the press. This means that the higher officials at the court did know about the letter, but it is unknown if they notified king Filip about it.
Medewerker ex-koningin verspreidde brief ondanks uitdrukk... - Het Nieuwsblad

-
Again: I highly doubt that Paola 'throws her sons under a bus' for selfish reasons only. She doesn't strike me as a complete monster. And let's face it, before she issued the statement there was a lot of speculation about Laurent's health too (see first pages of this thread for example). Her letter didn't change that. She doesn't strike me as the sharpest knife in the drawer, but again I highly doubt that this is all an evil plot to make the lives of her sons as difficult as possible, as some seem to suggest.

I actually do not agree with a complete silence. Sometimes it is better to give an honest view of what is the case. The Dutch court has been open about f.e. Prince Bernhard Jr.s' cancer, Prince Friso's illness and in the 80-ties about the depressions of Prince Claus. If anything it prevented wild rumours to spread.
Actually I don't advocate complete silence.

Saying more with less, is, however, very efficient and gives less scope for creative exegesis.

For example, if the White House announces that the First Lady has a cold, CNN may add that in fact the First Lady has had four colds since the Obama Presidency was inaugurated (unless you don't count the slight cold in 2009) and this proves that the Department of Health's guidelines for avoiding colds is well worth the tax dollars spent on collating the necessary information and this underlines the priority which the next budget round should attach to maintaining the Department's Treasury grant.

Whereas Fox News may say that this President's confused agenda has created domestic stresses which have unavoidably causes his family to show cold symptoms and the cold is therefore just the latest in a sorry series of incontrovertible evidence of this Administration's collusion with pollsters who fail to show that his agenda has been rejected by the people.

Suggestion: I can see that Prince Laurent being in a coma might need to be reported by Brussels Palace.

But when it comes to he said/she said, colds, etc., maybe the less said, the better.
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  #126  
Old 04-04-2014, 04:07 AM
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I agree with your post, MARG, but for me this situation is evidence that abdications do not really fit with the concept of monarchy. As much as we all like the spectacle of the big parties for the new monarchs and seeing the tiaras being worn by different heads, abdication is not as straightforwardly positive as some seem to think. Some countries can make it work reasonably well, but it clearly brings with it enormous difficulties, both personally and publicly.

Within any royal family, each member more less has their place; an understanding of their position and what their duties to The Firm are. With an abdication that all changes, which can't be easy for anyone.
It has not so much to do with abdications but with having a clear communication policy. Remember the War of the Waleses: no any abdication in sight but factions within the household sheltered into trenches and tried to obstruct each other. There were also problems because Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales both had different Households and different media strategies, even with an own separate website for the Heir, apart from the website of the royal family.

In the Flemish newspaper De Standaard was written: "This is unthinkable in the Netherlands" referring to the situation that in the Netherlands the State Information Service, under direct supervision as well a part of the Prime Minister's Office, is the one and the only spokesperson for the Royal House and individual members of the royal family.

A situation that Belvédère (Albert & Paola) or Stuyvenberg (Fabiola) communicate directly with or without the knowledge of the Palais Royal (Philippe & Mathilde) is indeed "unthinkable" in the Netherlands. By the way: recently Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales are following the Dutch example and streamline the communication policy with creating one communication department for the whole royal family. A recommendation for Belgium.

This has nothing to do with abdications, with titles and styles. It has everything to do with a proper, modern and uniform organization working for and on behalf of all members of the Royal House.
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  #127  
Old 04-04-2014, 04:30 AM
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I believe that in the Netherlands it took a bigger and more real crisis than this one to get the communications under the control of the government information service. It was changed in 1965, just after the soap opera that was Princess Irene's engagement to Prince Carlos Hugo of Parma. Irene's engagement saw the Dutch RF, the Dutch government and the Bourbon-Parma family all issueing seperate and often conflicting statements. And before the actual engagement there was the issue of Irene's conversion and her praise for the 'social policies' of the fascist Franco regime which caused the government problems too.

Note that Bernhard always had difficulties in letting 'The Hague' decide what he could and esp. what he could not say. Towards the end of his life he sought publicity whenever certain news issues about himself or about other things in the country annoyed him or when he felt the need to set the record 'straight'. I think it was one of the biggest worries of Beatrix during her reign.
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  #128  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:04 AM
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. . . It certainly seems the official working relationship between the current Royal Court & the staff of the former royal couple is non-existent
I think this is a timebomb that the Belgian Monarchy and Government did not imagine would occur. And yet it seems, for all intents and purposes, that King Albert and Queen Paola have established their own court.

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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
In the Flemish newspaper De Standaard was written: "This is unthinkable in the Netherlands" referring to the situation that in the Netherlands the State Information Service, under direct supervision as well a part of the Prime Minister's Office, is the one and the only spokesperson for the Royal House and individual members of the royal family.
Netherlands took care to ensure that in the case of an abdication the rank of the monarch would change and thus ensure there was only one Queen or King. They also consolidated their communications offices to ensure the Royal Family presented a united front.

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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
A situation that Belvédère (Albert & Paola) or Stuyvenberg (Fabiola) communicate directly with or without the knowledge of the Palais Royal (Philippe & Mathilde) is indeed "unthinkable" in the Netherlands. By the way: recently Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales are following the Dutch example and streamline the communication policy with creating one communication department for the whole royal family. A recommendation for Belgium.
They are also including the SJP communications department to ensure everyone is on the same page and that comes from the top.

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This has nothing to do with abdications, with titles and styles. It has everything to do with a proper, modern and uniform organization working for and on behalf of all members of the Royal House.
I beg to differ. Unlike the normal situation of a Dowager Queen, an abdicated King Albert and Queen Paola have retained their titles and not reverted to Prince and Princess. From their going to the government about more money without going through the "King" which I am assuming would be the norm, and Albert then publicly staging his own little boycott when he didn't get what he wanted showed that Albert and Paola have no respect for the King and feel they can say and do as they please exactly the same as they have always done. Now Paola has released statements to the press regarding Prince Laurent, once again ignoring the King and including inflamatory statements as to the King's behavior regarding his brother.

No. This couple do not accept the authority of the King and have treated him publicly with contempt. They do not seem to publically recognise him as being The King of the Belgians, rather as their son to ignore and usurp his position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marengo View Post
I believe that in the Netherlands it took a bigger and more real crisis than this one to get the communications under the control of the government information service. It was changed in 1965, just after the soap opera that was Princess Irene's engagement to Prince Carlos Hugo of Parma. Irene's engagement saw the Dutch RF, the Dutch government and the Bourbon-Parma family all issueing seperate and often conflicting statements. . .
Since Belgium does not have a traditon of abdication (Leopold III being a unique case) they would have been well served to have taken a good look at the implications of an abdication in the 21st Century and Netherlands was an obvious situation to investigate and use as a template, albeit with a Belgian twist. They didn't and to be honest I think it is going to be up to the King and the Government to reign in the communications offices and even, if necessary, investigate the status King Albert and Queen Paola.

Whatever the outcome of all this dirty laundry, the clear winner seems to be a recovering Prince Laurent and family and hopefully the continuation of the rapprochement established between he and his siblings and their families.
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  #129  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:19 AM
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Breaking news: Vincent Pardoen, head of Albert’s house has been fired today and is immediatly replaced by Peter Degraer. He was the one who spread Paola’s open letter and he was the one who annoyed Prime Minister di Rupo by stalking him behind Philippe’s back to get more money for Albert and Paola. Lots of those troubles Albert and Paola have gotten themselves into were obviously due to the lack of competent advisors and the retirement of Jaques van Ypersele. And to make matters worse Vincent Pardoen even went to the press yesterday and justified his actions saying they wanted to make sure that the public understands Paola’s sentiments. By doing so he revealed that he acted against the will of the court. Another breach of confidence. Some say he was also the one who advised Fabiola to put her money into her much critiszed foundation Fons Pereos.


I don’t know if it was Philippe or Albert who fired Pardoen but the wording of the press release indicates that it was Philippe and his cabinet chief Frans van Daele. It’s a very strong and immediate signal, I’m impressed and almost shocked, shows that Philippe put his foot down and shows his parents they better don’t mess with him. And I dearly hope they understand before this turns into some sort of Shakespeare drama.
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  #130  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:25 AM
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Re the open letter and the press strategy: The open letter might have had a positive impact if Paola had done a mea culpa. She could have said that she misjudged the situation, feels sorry that she didn’t return earlier and will now try to give all her support to Laurent combined with her thanks to the medical team. It would have been humble, it would have been a sign that she did understand the criticism. But instead she tries to portray herself as ever so concerned and involved mother and belittles her sons.
Regarding the press strategy of the court. It was upon Claire’s wish that no statements about anything else than the pneumonia where given. She didn’t want Laurent’s medical report out in the open and asked for privacy. This is now undermined by Paola and Claire is said to be angry about it.
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  #131  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by *Mara* View Post
Breaking news: Vincent Pardoen, head of Albert’s house has been fired today and is immediatly replaced by Peter Degraer. He was the one who spread Paola’s open letter and he was the one who annoyed Prime Minister di Rupo by stalking him behind Philippe’s back to get more money for Albert and Paola. Lots of those troubles Albert and Paola have gotten themselves into were obviously due to the lack of competent advisors and the retirement of Jaques van Ypersele. And to make matters worse Vincent Pardoen even went to the press yesterday and justified his actions saying they wanted to make sure that the public understands Paola’s sentiments. By doing so he revealed that he acted against the will of the court. Another breach of confidence. Some say he was also the one who advised Fabiola to put her money into her much critiszed foundation Fons Pereos.


I don’t know if it was Philippe or Albert who fired Pardoen but the wording of the press release indicates that it was Philippe and his cabinet chief Frans van Daele. It’s a very strong and immediate signal, I’m impressed and almost shocked, shows that Philippe put his foot down and shows his parents they better don’t mess with him. And I dearly hope they understand before this turns into some sort of Shakespeare drama.
Decisive action was needed, and I hope this draws a line over events of the last 9 months.
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  #132  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:36 AM
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Re MARG:

I believe that Filip actually 'interned' at the palace in The Hague for a short while when still crown prince, to get some ideas. Beatrix did the same at the Danish court in the seventies btw. Filip already made quite some changes and I am sure he will reorganise the court and the structures at court even more in the future. He already did a lot during the few months that he is king. Like Juliana's court, the one of Albert II appeared to be a cosy mess, cosy but not professional enough for this day and age.

--
Firing Pardoen was the right thing to do. Bringing all the communications of the family under one structure, as the king has been trying to do, is the other right thing to do. I am sure that Filip will proceed with this, with the support of the prime minister. I hope that it will mean the end of these kamikaze actions by either Laurent, Claire, Paola, Fabiola or Albert.
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  #133  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:38 AM
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That titles and styles do not play a role is also proven by the Grand Ducal Court. Like their Orange-Nassau relatives in the Netherlands, also the Luxembourgian Nassaus have a tradition in abdications.

Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated in 1964. She lived 21 more years and was styled HRH Grand Duchess Charlotte. There were no any problems whatsoever.

Grand Duke Jean abdicated in 2000. Now, 14 years later, he is still alive and is styled HRH Grand Duke Jean. There are no any problems whatsoever.

The trick is that in Luxembourg all communications go through one channel, which is de Maréchalat de la Cour. The main principle of course is, no matter the titles and styles, that all members of a Royal House are subject to internal agreements. Seen from the outside, under King Baudouin and King Albert there was little attention for handbooks, blueprints, proceedings and policies. Anyone with an eye for detail can see that: Queen Fabiola with her own communications about her Foundations, King Albert and Queen Paola with their own communication about the state of their youngest son. The confusing dresscode of the latest State Banquet in honour of the Chinese President, the communication of the palace which is sometimes synchronized with the federal Government but "forgotten" to do the same with the (mighty) regional Governments. I think King Philippe is just at the beginning of a major reorganization of the Court.
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  #134  
Old 04-04-2014, 07:49 AM
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Good for Philippe, he's working very hard but this is just the beginning, he's going to have to drag the court kicking and screaming to the XXI century.
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  #135  
Old 04-04-2014, 09:32 AM
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It has not so much to do with abdications but with having a clear communication policy. Remember the War of the Waleses: no any abdication in sight but factions within the household sheltered into trenches and tried to obstruct each other. There were also problems because Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales both had different Households and different media strategies, even with an own separate website for the Heir, apart from the website of the royal family.

In the Flemish newspaper De Standaard was written: "This is unthinkable in the Netherlands" referring to the situation that in the Netherlands the State Information Service, under direct supervision as well a part of the Prime Minister's Office, is the one and the only spokesperson for the Royal House and individual members of the royal family.

A situation that Belvédère (Albert & Paola) or Stuyvenberg (Fabiola) communicate directly with or without the knowledge of the Palais Royal (Philippe & Mathilde) is indeed "unthinkable" in the Netherlands. By the way: recently Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales are following the Dutch example and streamline the communication policy with creating one communication department for the whole royal family. A recommendation for Belgium.

This has nothing to do with abdications, with titles and styles. It has everything to do with a proper, modern and uniform organization working for and on behalf of all members of the Royal House.
My point is not so much about communication strategies. It is about the aftermath of an abdication among the people who make up the royal families themselves.

It's pretty clear that some degree of uncertainty around his role now that he is no longer the son of the reigning King has been causing Prince Laurent personal distress. Paola admits as much in her letter.

In addition, Albert and Paola seem not to have come to terms with their new status, hence their outrage at their reduced funding from the state and not ensuring the King Philippe personally knew of their intention to release Paola's ill-advised statement.

The simple point that I'm making, is that abdication is all the rage at the moment and, on this website at least, is seen as an obviously good thing for all concerned. I'm simply suggesting that that's not necessarily the case. It's one thing for things to change when a monarch dies. There is only one undoubted sovereign and far fewer noses can be put out of joint. To have 2 kings and 3 queens in a small country like Belgium can only complicate matters, as it clearly has.
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  #136  
Old 04-04-2014, 09:59 AM
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Well, since Laurent's father doesn't have the eternal life on earth, Laurent would find himself in the position of 'brother of the king' instead of 'son of the king' at some point of his life. If Albert II didn't abdicate this would only have postponed such an issue, if it is indeed an issue for Laurent. His 'stress' predates his fathers abdication by decades. In the last years of ALbert's reign Laurent was not welcome at the palace anymore due to his antics.

If this mess shows anything, it is that it was high time for a new person to get a broom and clean up the mess. Note that many/most courtiers have been on the same place for decades, starting under King Baudouin as Albert took over most advisors/employees from his brother.

That Albert and Paola are not able to come to terms with their abdication is not an argument against an abdication. As others said: many other abdicated monarchs did not cause problems. Some heirs, who are wasting the best part of their lives waiting, have caused problems too.
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  #137  
Old 04-04-2014, 10:14 AM
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From what I've read, Laurent's relationship with his father is particularly poor. I've read that he was not welcome in the palace when his father was the reigning king.

The situation as it now stands has Albert very much still on the scene. He clearly has his own power base which is separate from Philippe's. His influence is likely still very high given his 20 years of building relationships with the top tiers of Belgian society and government.

He and his wife are very much still in a position to exert influence, as demonstrated by their actions over recent days. Paola has propagated within the public sphere over recent days that Laurent is somehow mentally unsound, without a clear future role in the royal family. Laurent wouldn't be completely out of line for assuming that their opinion of his public role will still have some heft with Philippe and with the government of the day.
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  #138  
Old 04-04-2014, 10:24 AM
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Good for Phillippe, keep it up. Paola disregarding medical privacy is unforgivable.
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  #139  
Old 04-04-2014, 12:45 PM
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From what I've read, Laurent's relationship with his father is particularly poor. I've read that he was not welcome in the palace when his father was the reigning king.

The situation as it now stands has Albert very much still on the scene. He clearly has his own power base which is separate from Philippe's. His influence is likely still very high given his 20 years of building relationships with the top tiers of Belgian society and government.

He and his wife are very much still in a position to exert influence, as demonstrated by their actions over recent days. Paola has propagated within the public sphere over recent days that Laurent is somehow mentally unsound, without a clear future role in the royal family. Laurent wouldn't be completely out of line for assuming that their opinion of his public role will still have some heft with Philippe and with the government of the day.
It is true that the relationship between Prince Laurent and his parents was (and probably still is) poor. I miss in your post that probaby the Prince himself is very much to blame for this. In 2011 Prince Laurent went to Congo (the former Belgian colony) despite the urgent request from the palace ánd the Prime Minister to cancel that visit. Mr Yves Leterme, the then Prime Minister, even wrote an official letter to Prince Laurent to inform him that neither the King nor the Government were happy with the intented trip. The letter by Prime Minister Leterme was discussed on beforehand with Mr Steven Vanackere, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at that moment escorting the King and Queen during a visit to Germany.

Later it became clear that Prince Laurent informed the Chief of the King's Cabinet, Mr Jacques van Ypersele de Strihou, about his intentions. The entourage of the King was unhappy about this politically high-sensitive visit. After consultations with the Prime Minister, the King had a personal encounter with his youngest son and informed him that a trip to Congo was out of the question. Result? Prince Laurent went, enraging the King, the entourage at the palace, the Prime Minister and political Belgium. The monarchy is under sharp public and political scrutiny in Belgium and all this did not help very much. And indeed: immediately Belgian Parliament wanted to discuss the annual dotation of the Prince (€ 312.000,--) with as rhetoric question: "What is the good man doing except cashing from the state but keep his ears closed for requests or warnings from that very same generous state?"

From then on Prince Laurent became a persona non-grata at the palace. It is just until his brother became the new King, that Prince Laurent was -carefully- given some events to represent the King. Amidst all possible criticism on King Albert and Queen Paola, let us not forget that Prince Laurent honoured his name as Enfant Terrible of the royal family. His siblings Philippe and Astrid also experienced the rocky marriage of their parents and the difficult situation at home but they have become very normal acting, friendly and approachable royals. It is hard to lay all the blame on the parents while two of their three children never caused any problem.
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  #140  
Old 04-04-2014, 01:35 PM
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I think this shows perhaps the way Albert & Paola treated their son only made things worse. Cutting him off and banishing him from the Royal Palace probably just made him see no reason to comply.
However Philippe has brought his brother in from the cold perhaps giving him more of a reason to want to behave more appropriately.
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