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Marengo 10-05-2007 04:42 PM

Philippe's public image
 
Crown Prince Phillipe has received a lot of critisism over the last years, some fair and some not. We can use this thread to discuss these media stories.

martha-louise 10-10-2007 03:28 AM

There is a new book coming out about prince Philippe.
It's called 'Prins Filip' (how original) and it's written by Barend Leyts.

I heard an interview with the author. There was an extraordinary cooperation from people who are close to the royal family and prince. New sources have spoken.

He checkt if the diploma's of the prince are real. In secondary school when he studied in Flanders (Loppem) he had a privileged postition, because the prince didn't speak Dutch very well.

After that the prince went to Stanford University. The author has proof that the prince did exams, made papers etc. So, not a stupid prince ...

The author also found former girlfriends of the prince. More than one. There was one relationship that lasted for 3 years, with a girl named Barbara. She was a common citizen, not heraldic. A daughter of a wealthy businessman. But Philippe had to stop the relationship because she wasn't nobel. (Princess Liliane (common citizen) was at that time fresh in the memory of the people and the relationship with Leopold was controversial)

The character of the prince is made clear also: obstinate, impulsive some of the time. That's why he sometimes makes mistakes, like in South-Africa, when there was a lot of critics about his behavior.

The autor claims to be objective, and of what I have heard, I'm ready to believe it. But of course, we first have to read the book.

Helena 10-10-2007 09:12 AM

Do you know when the book will be published? It sounds interesting.

I always thought that Filips had a relationship with a countess de Lalaing, or something like that?

johann 10-10-2007 10:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Helena (Post 678003)
Do you know when the book will be published? It sounds interesting.

The book is already published and the title is “Kroonprins Filip”.
Here´s a link to the publishing house (in Dutch): Uitgeverij Houtekiet

It´s written by the journalists Barend Leyts and Brigitte Balfoort and by the respected historian Mark van den Wijngaert and it seems to be the first profound biography on Prince Philippe. The book was presented in Brussels today and one of the presenters was the former Prime Minister Wilfried Martens. He emphasized it´s about time to introduce the function of the crown prince into the constitution. Up to now it´s not mentioned there at all and this does not make things easier IMO.

As for the Stanford diploma. I don´t get why so many folks are willing to believe the diploma was bought. This is surely not the way it works in Stanford or in any other university with reputation. So it probably says more about these people than about Philippe himself.

martha-louise 10-10-2007 01:17 PM

When Philippe received a 'doctorat honoris causa' (Phd) at the Catholic University of Leuven. There were a lot of people who had the opinion that he doesn't deserve a doctorat, seen his mediocre results at school, and who knows how he has managed to have a diploma in Stanford. Lots of gossips...

Also, the prince is seen as generally stupid. He's a icon in jokes for someone stupid.

I think it means a lot to him that journalist now have to admid that he has a universitary degree. In the meanwhile it has been proved that he can't be that stupid after all. It's a quit important thing

johann 10-10-2007 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by martha-louise (Post 678109)
When Philippe received a 'doctorat honoris causa' (Phd) at the Catholic University of Leuven. There were a lot of people who had the opinion that he doesn't deserve a doctorat, seen his mediocre results at school, and who knows how he has managed to have a diploma in Stanford. Lots of gossips...

Also, the prince is seen as generally stupid. He's a icon in jokes for someone stupid.

I think it means a lot to him that journalist now have to admid that he has a universitary degree. In the meanwhile it has been proved that he can't be that stupid after all. It's a quit important thing

I´m very well aware of this, martha-louise. But as you say - it is (mean-spirited) gossip… There also have been positive stories about Philippe, but in the end it´s of course up to the people what they believe and listen too. I´m not saying Philippe is a brainiac, but he sure is at least as intelligent as the average Belgian.
And why should this specific “revealment” mean so much to Philippe? He knows how he has gotten his master and he also knows that these folks, who do not believe in him, are not interested in reading this book and probably also not in changing their mind. Maybe it´s more the overall result what means a lot to him: a profound biography (this being said without having seen the book) written in a non-sensational style … and under citation of reliable sources (and as a graduate with scientific skills himself he sure knows to worship this ;)).

martha-louise 10-10-2007 03:34 PM

Well we follow every step the prince takes. But if you are an ordinary person, who has no great interests in royalty, imagine you'd only see the prince on television news. When was the last time he was on the 7o'clock news with a positive story? He's only in the news when there is something 'spectacular' to say, when there is another proof of how clumsy he is.
A lot of people just don't know what he does the whole day, beside saying stupid things and being stiff in front of the camera.
As you say, those people won't read the book and discover who he is. But there is a slight chance that the media will pick up some quote's...

johann 10-11-2007 09:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by martha-louise (Post 678166)
When was the last time he was on the 7o'clock news with a positive story? He's only in the news when there is something 'spectacular' to say, when there is another proof of how clumsy he is.
A lot of people just don't know what he does the whole day, beside saying stupid things and being stiff in front of the camera.
As you say, those people won't read the book and discover who he is. But there is a slight chance that the media will pick up some quote's...

Well martha-louise: I´d say the visit to Seraing (1/10) and especially the visit to Thomas & Piron in Our (25/9) with lots of enthusiastic school kids, just to name two recent events. Or the economic missions to Bulgaria and Canada.
IMO it´s a question of approach and IIRC you are in favour of a very unconventional way to change Philippe’s image via participating in a TV make over show ;).
I agree with you, he sure will never be a charismatic person. But he at least deserves a chance and I think it´s wrong to expect each and every public persons to be a media darling these days. Did you ever look at old clips of Albert during his economic missions? It´s exactly the same attitude as shown by Philippe. He was insecure, no good orator and he even wiped his eyes in the very same annoying way as Philippe does. So I still think it´s an uncomfortable combination of Philippe´s shyness and camera aversion with the media´s disinterest in pointing out positive things from time to time. To name examples: VTM, which still seems not to have gotten rid off the Pol Van Den Driessche influence or HLN which favours pure populism sometimes. Then again this is an approach which is not limited to Belgium - see the image change of Angela Merkel in Germany for example, first she was the frumpy, ugly Ossi (person from Eastern Germany) and now she is everybody’s darling.
But well time will tell and somehow I can understand you have given up hope, but I did not arrive at this point as well.

johann 10-11-2007 09:14 AM

And here are some details from the book – and no I had no look inside yet, it´s just a summary of what I read at nieuwsblad.be and gva.be and in the newspaper De Morgen.

Philippe´s youth: Philippe has been very lonely. He had barely friends, was isolated from other kids but had a personal nanny and turned into a spoiled and headstrong child. With the arrival of Astrid (called Titi by him) this changed a bit, but Albert and Paola were absent and did not care in an adequate way for the upbringing of their three children as they were completely busy with their personal problems.

About Stanford: Philippe went to a university abroad to prevent the publication of his exam results. He was just supposed to stay there one year by the court, but it was his very own wish to finish with the master grade and he was headstrong enough to get his way and to endure the extra work he had to do to finish.

About 1993 and the succession to the throne: It was Baudouin´s will that Philippe should succeed him and not Albert. He took care for private lessons for Philippe by former prime minister Wilfried Martens, etc. pp. But Baudouin´s untimely death changed the situation and Philippe was frustrated (to say the least) when his father took over the throne. It seems Albert and Philippe are in an unfavourable state of competition. Albert and his cabinet also prevent Philippe from networking with politicians and members of the government. When Philippe tried to contact politicians after the China and South Africa incidents, he was stopped by his father. And in complete opposite to his brother Laurent, Philippe accepts his father´s will and does not continue his contacts behind his father´s back.

About his relationship to the commoner Barbara Maselis, daughter of a Flemish producer for forage: Philippe and Barbara went to the Zevenkerken school in Bruges and fell in love and are described as soul mates. This relationship lasted 3 years, but Barbara was not welcome in Belvedere Castle and Albert forced Philippe to break up, since a commoner wife was not suitable in his eyes. The break up left Philippe in loneliness and this did not change until he met Mathilde.

About the controversial economic mission to South Africa 2006: Seems Philippe was absolutely fed up with his advisors and told them he was old enough to do things himself. He fell out with his advisor Jan Grauls, changed the agenda and was disinterested and not focussed for the rest of the trip. The result is the well-known storm of criticism.

The book: The court thought it’s too early for a biography on Prince Philippe and did not support the work, but also did not constrain it. In the beginning the work was frustrating for the authors since politicians loved their Philippe bashing and this way a balanced description was not achievable. But in the end they also succeeded in interviewing Philippe’s confidents. Their conclusions: Philippe is a very dutiful person, who is willing to serve the Belgians and their unity and who wants to do his best. But he is also too headstrong and too outspoken sometimes. And he is not supported properly by the politicians and his family (read his father)

Barend Leyts (one of the authors) “I leave it up to the reader to form a view on Philippe´s qualification for the kingship. But maybe he should get the opportunity to proof he is able to be a good king.”

And the former Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens opens the political debate by bringing up a constitutional status for the crown prince in Belgium. He thinks Philippe should be put under ministerial responsibility like it´s done in GB. This way Philippe had to seek approval of the government for his speeches and actions and he would also get the needed support, as the government would be responsible for him. Another advantage: This would also enable him to meet politicians and members of the government in an informal way and to start the much needed networking. Martens also said he has no doubts Philippe will do well within a semi-ceremonial kingship.
----
That Albert´s and Philippe´s relationship isn´t the very best, is quite obvious IMO. Philippe´s, Astrid´s and Laurent´s unhappy childhood and their insufficient upbringing are also no secret. But that Albert/his entourage works against Philippe or at least do not support him sufficiently is quite astonishing to read IMO.

Helena 10-11-2007 09:21 AM

Thank you for this, it is interesting, some old news but esp. the part of South Africa is new to me.

I hope this wil change the public attitude a bit, or at least spark the start of a change. And I also hope that the bashing by politicians will stop indeed, by putting the prince under ministerial responsibility this would be a start I think, though it will limit his freedom of movement.

I am surprised that Albert didn´t want a commoner for Phillipe, I wonder why he did allow one for his other son. Maybe because Laurent will never be king? Or because Laurent is more ´difficult´? Or the King changed his view in the last 10 years?

Marengo 10-11-2007 08:05 PM

Re: the biography,

I am was struck by Alberts reaction to Phillipe´s relationship with a commonor too, as P was in school when this all happened, I assume it is a while ago and the King changed his mind. Claire Coombs isn´t a noble after all and still allowed to marry laurent for example, and Mathilde´s background is noble indeed, but of the ´lowest´ nobility around.

Another thing what usually surprises me is that everybody assumed that Albert would be skipped in 1993, according to the book apparently even Phillipe thought so. I am glad Albert/ the government thought otherwise though!

Bad relations between Coburgs and their heirs is nothing new, I think only the relationship between Albert I and Leopold III was good, even the one between Leopold III and Baudouin went sour after a while. Anyway, that Albert/the court prevented Philipe to network to closely with members of parlament etc can be a sensible thing to do too, as it wouldn´t be wise for an heir to be too politically involved. But where there other examples in the book that they court worked against Phillipe?

johann 10-12-2007 06:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marengo (Post 678758)
Re: the biography,

I am was struck by Alberts reaction to Phillipe´s relationship with a commonor too, as P was in school when this all happened, I assume it is a while ago and the King changed his mind. Claire Coombs isn´t a noble after all and still allowed to marry laurent for example, and Mathilde´s background is noble indeed, but of the ´lowest´ nobility around.

Hmm, the royal world was slightly different back then (in the late 70ties/early 80ties), so one also has to put it in this context. And with Laurent nowadays - the day he married he was already 8th in the line of throne and soon he will be on place 12, so a happy marriage with a commoner sure is more important than searching for a noble bride.
And of course the infamous blabbermouth Jan van den Berghe (the term royalty watcher isn´t posh enough for him any longer, he now calls himself Monarchylogist) has something to tell too. According to him everybody knew about the relationship between Barbara and Philippe, the palace just tried to keep it secret and both Albert and Baudouin told Philippe to break up since it was too early for a serious relationship ending up in a marriage.
Barbara´s father in the meantime suggests it was indeed her non-noble background which caused the breakup.

Quote:

Another thing what usually surprises me is that everybody assumed that Albert would be skipped in 1993, according to the book apparently even Phillipe thought so. I am glad Albert/ the government thought otherwise though!
I agree with the skipping part. Albert was first in line of throne and so it was just fair to ask him.
That Philippe was surprised and had to cope with it for a while I can somehow understand. He certainly spent the time before August 1993 in the awareness of being the next king and successor to Baudouin. This seems to be what Baudouin put in his head and if he would have lived longer it sure would have been this way. And then Baudouin died all of sudden, everybody was shocked, quite an emotional and confusing situation. So I think Philippe´s reaction is understandable. He just has to get over it.
And – this is a general remark – I think a 30-something can “survive” being king. And there are also advantages of becoming king in earlier years and not just past 60 as it will be the case with Prince Charles for example.

Quote:

Bad relations between Coburgs and their heirs is nothing new, I think only the relationship between Albert I and Leopold III was good, even the one between Leopold III and Baudouin went sour after a while. Anyway, that Albert/the court prevented Philipe to network to closely with members of parlament etc can be a sensible thing to do too, as it wouldn´t be wise for an heir to be too politically involved. But where there other examples in the book that they court worked against Phillipe?
No (at least I did not read something about it). And somehow this part is not completely convincing the way it is cited in the newspapers. The authors claimed the court does not incorporate Philippe in important task. And I think this is not really justified. One just has to look at the economic missions, which have lots and lots of similarities with state visits (audiences, gala banquettes, receptions, business contacts, etc. pp.). This was what he did the last two years: 2006: SFA – meting with President Mbeki; Russia – meeting with President Putin; Canada: meeting with Governor-General Michaelle Jean and Quebecs Prime Minister; Bulgaria: President Parvanov was present on all three days to accompany Philippe
2007: China meeting with the vice premier, the trade minister and Hong Kong´s chief executive Donald Tsang. All in all a quite impressive list, which does not give the impression Philippe is put on the sideline.
Again I did not read the book, but it seems the court/Albert prevent Philippe to meet the Belgian top politicians at all. I agree, getting too much politically involved isn´t clever, but informal networking a la meeting the Prime Minister every three months for example to talk about the global state of affairs is no bad idea at all. Especially if you look at the complicated relationship between outgoing Prime Minister Verhofstadt and Philippe. Probably some discussions here and there would have prevented some incidents. And IMO it´s quite telling that the former Prime Minister Martens comes up with the idea of ministerial guidance and informal contacts and even says this is a advice he likes to give his fellow party member and future Prime Minister Yves Leterme. IMO many key players are really fed up with the way Jacques van Ypersele de Strihou and co. run the court. They just can´t get rid off him it seems.
And in the end it´s like in every other family company: if the owner isn´t willing to leave his successor some space and try things, the company will get into trouble.

flcty 10-15-2007 03:47 AM

The reign/times of Prince Phillipe...
 
Apprantly a new book has been released...titled Kroon-Prins Filip by Marc Van den Wijngaert, Brigitte Balfoort and Barend Leyts. Published by Houtekiet.
Apparantly it goes into great detail about Phillipe's huge stubborn streak.
Refer to Uitgeverij houtekiet. Type in the search engine Kroonprins Filip.
Has this book been provocative in the Belgian/Benelux media?

Empress 10-16-2007 09:52 PM

Well, people will always gossip about those that have it better than them in their eyes. Personally, I am not at all sure that I would want to be in these royals positions. I would not want every minute of my life scrutinized to the enth degree.

I suppose that Laurent was allowed to marry Claire as he was/is not the heir to the throne?

Marengo 10-18-2007 05:13 PM

For those who want to know how Barbara looks, take a peek at this video.

Regina 10-18-2007 06:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by johann (Post 678446)
And here are some details from the book – and no I had no look inside yet, it´s just a summary of what I read at nieuwsblad.be and gva.be and in the newspaper De Morgen.

Philippe´s youth: Philippe has been very lonely. He had barely friends, was isolated from other kids but had a personal nanny and turned into a spoiled and headstrong child. With the arrival of Astrid (called Titi by him) this changed a bit, but Albert and Paola were absent and did not care in an adequate way for the upbringing of their three children as they were completely busy with their personal problems.

About Stanford: Philippe went to a university abroad to prevent the publication of his exam results. He was just supposed to stay there one year by the court, but it was his very own wish to finish with the master grade and he was headstrong enough to get his way and to endure the extra work he had to do to finish.

About 1993 and the succession to the throne: It was Baudouin´s will that Philippe should succeed him and not Albert. He took care for private lessons for Philippe by former prime minister Wilfried Martens, etc. pp. But Baudouin´s untimely death changed the situation and Philippe was frustrated (to say the least) when his father took over the throne. It seems Albert and Philippe are in an unfavourable state of competition. Albert and his cabinet also prevent Philippe from networking with politicians and members of the government. When Philippe tried to contact politicians after the China and South Africa incidents, he was stopped by his father. And in complete opposite to his brother Laurent, Philippe accepts his father´s will and does not continue his contacts behind his father´s back.

About his relationship to the commoner Barbara Maselis, daughter of a Flemish producer for forage: Philippe and Barbara went to the Zevenkerken school in Bruges and fell in love and are described as soul mates. This relationship lasted 3 years, but Barbara was not welcome in Belvedere Castle and Albert forced Philippe to break up, since a commoner wife was not suitable in his eyes. The break up left Philippe in loneliness and this did not change until he met Mathilde.

About the controversial economic mission to South Africa 2006: Seems Philippe was absolutely fed up with his advisors and told them he was old enough to do things himself. He fell out with his advisor Jan Grauls, changed the agenda and was disinterested and not focussed for the rest of the trip. The result is the well-known storm of criticism.

The book: The court thought it’s too early for a biography on Prince Philippe and did not support the work, but also did not constrain it. In the beginning the work was frustrating for the authors since politicians loved their Philippe bashing and this way a balanced description was not achievable. But in the end they also succeeded in interviewing Philippe’s confidents. Their conclusions: Philippe is a very dutiful person, who is willing to serve the Belgians and their unity and who wants to do his best. But he is also too headstrong and too outspoken sometimes. And he is not supported properly by the politicians and his family (read his father)

Barend Leyts (one of the authors) “I leave it up to the reader to form a view on Philippe´s qualification for the kingship. But maybe he should get the opportunity to proof he is able to be a good king.”

And the former Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens opens the political debate by bringing up a constitutional status for the crown prince in Belgium. He thinks Philippe should be put under ministerial responsibility like it´s done in GB. This way Philippe had to seek approval of the government for his speeches and actions and he would also get the needed support, as the government would be responsible for him. Another advantage: This would also enable him to meet politicians and members of the government in an informal way and to start the much needed networking. Martens also said he has no doubts Philippe will do well within a semi-ceremonial kingship.
----
That Albert´s and Philippe´s relationship isn´t the very best, is quite obvious IMO. Philippe´s, Astrid´s and Laurent´s unhappy childhood and their insufficient upbringing are also no secret. But that Albert/his entourage works against Philippe or at least do not support him sufficiently is quite astonishing to read IMO.

Thank you so much, johann for the work you had writing this summary of Philippe's life. You answered to some questions I wanted to see answered :flowers:
I just want to ask what about the relationship between Philippe and Astrid: are they good?

I feel Philippe suffered a lot with this lack of help of his own father. If that is true, then I think it's very sad and even schocking. I am glad he found Mathilde, a wise and tender woman to give him love, confidence and support that he surely needs.

Regina 10-18-2007 06:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marengo (Post 681763)
For those who want to know how Barbara looks, take a peek at this video.

Although I think Mathilde was the perfect choise for Philippe :smile: I think Barbara looks a very nice young lady. She looks very elegant in the second pic of her.

Marengo 01-19-2008 09:36 PM

As posted by Catherine on the Benelux Royals MB:

Quote:

On 13th January prince Philippe took part in a pheasant hunt in Eeklo. The Flemish animal rights organization GAIA reacts strongly against this and wrote an angry letter to the prince.

According to Michel Vandenbosch of GAIA "the organization is apalled that the prince kills innocent animals for his own fun. He doesn't take into accout the feelings of many of his subjects, who reject this form of animal suffering. In the letter, that we sent Thursady afternoon, we ask him to never do anything similar again."

Pierre Emmanuel De Bauw, spokesman of court, says there will be no comment on the prince's private activities.


stephanievl 01-25-2008 08:59 AM

An interview of the newspaper het nieuwsblad with GUY MERTENS who worked 25years as top-advisor of king albert, he got the task to "raise" prince Philippe!

http://www.nieuwsblad.be/Article/Det...cleID=791N0B7C

Marengo 01-25-2008 11:34 AM

Catherine provided a translation of the article on the Benelux Royals MB:

Quote:

An interview with leftenant-general Guy Mertens (70) in today's papers. Mertens was during 25 years top advisor of king Boudewijn and king Albert II. In 1985 he was charged, as "vleugeladjudant", with the education of prince Philippe.

For 16 years he was head of the military house of the king.

He advised the king on miltary matters, but also on scientific research, energy and police matters. Since 2 years he's retired, but he still gives scientific advise to the king and is chairman of the "Koninklijke Schenking" (that manages the royal estates)

........................

- What did prince Philippe learn from you?
GM: Mainly practical knowledge (levenswijsheid).Prince Philippe is a lot smarter than most people think. Otherwise how do you obtain a master's degree from Stanford University? Don't think they just handed him a degree in the US. He had to work hard for it, and he deserved it.

- Ex court marshal Herman Liebaers had a different opinion. His legendary words were "He's not up to it, he's a sad case".
GM: Liebaers didn't even know Philippe. The only one who knew him really well was me (laughs).
I even knew more than his parents. Believe me, Philippe is capable. And he's ready. If he becomes king, he'll do well. I can tell.

- You travelled to Mexico with the prince in 1986 (for the world cup soccer) where Belgium won from Russia.
GM: That's right. I remember very well Albert calling me. He asked "Guy, will you fly with Philippe to Mexico tomorrow?" I could've kissed him, that's how thrilled I was. We slept in the same hotel as the soccer team. In the evening we saw goal keeper Jean-Marie Pfaff at the massage table. I still hear him say "We're both stars, each in our own way". I lived some wonderful moments with Philippe.

- Why were you charged with the prince's education?
GM: I don't know. I had just been appointed to lead the Belgian unit in Soest (Germany) when king Boudewijn called for me. He was looking for someone for his cousin he said, that turned out to be Philippe. For 2 hours I walked with the king through the park. I coudn't believe it myself. I guess I had the right profile for the job: a technical education as an engineer, the acquired degree in the army and I was bilingual.

- And you come from a good family.
GM: Absolutely, a butcher's son from Westerlo (laughs).

- You worked 12 years for Boudewijn and another 12 for Albert. Different chefs, different attitudes?
GM: Boudewijn and Albert are two totally different people. Albert's very open, while Boudewijn was more reserved.

- Boudewijn is often portrayed as stiff and boring.
GM: That's not correct. Boudewijn could be very funny. He could really make people laugh, he was very witty.

- No stiffness and protocole at court?
GM: Protocole is meant to make an activity take place smoothly. I sometimes hear you're not allowed to ask the king any questions. That's a laugh. Our security people have never prevented it.

- You're retired now. Do you still phone king Albert?
GM: When you worked so closely together for such a long time, you don't just break ties. I still give the king scientific advise and I'm still chairman of the Royal Donation, the institution that manages the royal patrimony. We call each other often.

- Are their numbers in your mobile?
GM: As the letter K. When "K" appears on the screen, the king is calling me. When Paola calls "Q" (queen) appears.


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