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Old 10-20-2010, 05:28 AM
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Belgian Abdication, Succession and Constitutional Issues

Several Belgian newspapers yesterday ran the story that King Albert II was supposed to abdicate in December, after Belgium's presidency of the EU ends. According to press reports the 'news' comes from politicians of the Walloon Liberal party (though they do not say who).

The king wanted to use the positive atmosphere that the presidency would bring, ánd the political stability that he expected to last longer, to give the torch to his son. However, the new political 'crisis' that belgium is in since April made the king change his mind.

The prime minister, the spokes person of the palace (Pierre-Emmanuel Bauw) and the leader of the Walloon liberal party (Didier Reynders) all denied that such a plan ever existed.

Although Belgium does not have a tradition of abdications like The Netherlands and Luxembourg, many still expected the king to abdicate at one point.

source: gva.be
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:39 AM
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And in the mean time, the N-VA party of Bart de Wever suggested a constitutional change to limit the role of the monarch. The N-VA wants to do this during the reign of king Albert II, so not to create the impression that the change will be made for Pricne Philippe personally. Of course, some Flemish newspapers say that that is exactly why they want to change the law (sigh).

Article in Dutch, from the Standaard.

-
Note that the article says that the 'Wetstraat' (the street where the government and politicians etc. meet) expects the king to abdicate at one point.
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Old 02-20-2016, 07:20 AM
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Two N-VA MPs and a professor of constitutional law commented on the unconstitutionality of last year's marriage decree; the government replied with non-answers.

http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post1842078
http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage...5201606223.xml
'Amedeogate: koning Filip treedt buiten de grondwet' - België - Knack.be
Le roi Philippe et Charles Michel accusés par la N-VA d'avoir violé la Constitution - Belgique - LeVif.be
Amedeo, Charles Michel et l'entourloupette politico-royale - Belgique - LeVif.be
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:27 PM
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I believe it is constitutionally rather straight forward: she was not born out of an approved marriage, so she is not in line to the throne. Even Albert's half-brother and half-sisters were not, while their parents were married, so she has even less of a case.
I will restate that I do not think Delphine will seek or be given a position in the order of succession, but the constitution is not as straightforward as that. There is no explicitly stated rule that heirs must be born out of an approved marriage.

The official interpretation provided by the government in 1991 was that Albert's half-siblings were not in line because their parents were not married constitutionally, in spite of being civilly married.

https://www.senate.be/lexdocs/S0509/S05091665.pdf

I do not know, but the legal terminology of legitimacy might still have been incorporated in Belgian civil law at the time they were born in the 1940s and 1950s, unlike the present law. Perhaps someone who knows more about the history of Belgian law could confirm or deny that.
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:59 PM
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Within the constitution it states: 'natuurlijk & wettige nakomelingschap' (natural and lawful descendants). My interpretation of 'wettige nakomelingschap' is that the child needs to be born within a marriage; as that has always been considered to be meant by 'wettig nakomelingschap'. Delphine is 'onwettig' as Albert was and is married to Paola.

In addition, several articles refer to her 'husband' James O'Hare. If he truly is her husband (not just partner), her marriage was not recognized by the king, so, she wouldn't be in line to the throne anymore had she had any chance of ending up in line to the throne.

Constitution of Belgium; article 85 (in Dutch - you can also find the French and German versions here):
Quote:
Art. 85
De grondwettelijke macht van de Koning gaat bij erfopvolging over op de natuurlijke en wettige nakomelingschap, in de rechte lijn, van Z.M. Leopold, Joris, Christiaan, Frederik van Saksen-Coburg en volgens eerstgeboorterecht.
De in het eerste lid bedoelde nakomeling die huwt zonder toestemming van de Koning of van hen die, bij gebreke van de Koning, zijn macht uitoefenen in de bij de Grondwet bepaalde gevallen, verliest zijn recht op de kroon.
Hij kan echter in zijn recht worden hersteld door de Koning of door hen die, bij gebreke van de Koning, zijn macht uitoefenen in de bij de Grondwet bepaalde gevallen, doch alleen met instemming van beide Kamers.
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
The official interpretation was that he (and of course his sisters) were excluded from birth as they were constitutionally not legitimate notwithstanding that they were legitimate in civil law. As such, Prince Alexandre did not require consent to marry as he had no succession rights to lose, per the official interpretation.

Please refer to my response to Somebody, which I have updated with a link to the official interpretation provided by the Prime Minister: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post2288855

.

I don't know what the PM said, but I don't see how they could have married "unconstitutionally" as the King of the Belgians, unlike the King of the Netherlands or the King of Denmark, does not need consent to marry under the constitution (only his successors do).



There might be a constitutional question about Leopold being able to exercise the royal prerogative during the war , but that would not have precluded him from getting married and, even if he were suspended from exercising the royal prerogative, that would not affect the succession rights of his descendants.



In fact, the only requirements to be in the line of succession are being a direct, natural and legitimate descendant of Leopold I (which Alexandre was) and not having married without consent (which is the only requirement he failed in my opinion).



So, with all due respect, I think the PM was wrong and his statement, if he made it, was probably a political, rather than a legal one.



And I suppose you agree that, even if the marriage were deemed "constitutional", Albert's half-sisters wouldn't have succession rights anyway.


EDIT: An interesting discussion on the topic is found in the link below.


https://www.heraldica.org/topics/roy...c.htm#validity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Somebody View Post
Within the constitution it states: 'natuurlijk & wettige nakomelingschap' (natural and lawful descendants). My interpretation of 'wettige nakomelingschap' is that the child needs to be born within a marriage; as that has always been considered to be meant by 'wettig nakomelingschap'. Delphine is 'onwettig' as Albert was and is married to Paola.

The French version is stronger since it uses the word "légitime" specifically. When I saw the Dutch version "wettige", I actually thought Delphine had a case if she was recognized as the legal daughter of Albert, as she will inevitably be. But the French version leaves less room for doubt, unless legal recognition implies legitimization.
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
I don't know what the PM said, but [...]
I would encourage you to read what the PM (and the constitutional experts whom he cites) said, as the points you raised are addressed.

As I said, the link is posted here: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post2288855


Quote:
Originally Posted by Somebody View Post
Within the constitution it states: 'natuurlijk & wettige nakomelingschap' (natural and lawful descendants). My interpretation of 'wettige nakomelingschap' is that the child needs to be born within a marriage; as that has always been considered to be meant by 'wettig nakomelingschap'.
If I remember correctly, the Civil Code was modeled on the Code Napoleon, per which the child became legitimate on the parents' marriage, so a child born out of wedlock whose parents were eventually married would probably have been legally considered legitimate at the time the Constitution was written.

Nonetheless, that would not extend to Delphine (if recognized as the daughter of Albert rather than Jacques), so I personally would agree with your interpretation. However, there are those who argue that the elimination of illegitimacy from civil law signifies that all children are now considered legitimate.
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
I would encourage you to read what the PM (and the constitutional experts whom he cites) said, as the points you raised are addressed.

As I said, the link is posted here: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post2288855




THe central point in his argument is that a marriage of the king is "an act of the king" requiring ministerial countersignature in the sense of the constitution. As the link I posted above argues, that is far from being an universally accepted proposition and, in my humble opinion, it is absurd.


In any case, the point is that the PM does not have to resort to far-fetched arguments to justify Alexandre's or his sisters' exclusion. It suffices to apply a straighforward reading of the constitution. His sisters don't have succession rights because cognatic succession does not apply to them and Alexandre would have been excluded anyway because he married without consent. The only difference in the PM's interpretation is that he believes the exclusion was from birth and I do not.


I would also suggest to the PM that, if he thinks that it is important for the King of the Belgians to ask for consent to marry, he should have proposed a constitutional amendment to write that down explicitly in the Belgian constitution following the Danish or Dutch examples.
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Old 01-28-2020, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
THe central point in his argument is that a marriage of the king is "an act of the king" requiring ministerial countersignature in the sense of the constitution. As the link I posted above argues, that is far from being an universally accepted proposition and, in my humble opinion, it is absurd.
I have read the linked article before; it is clearly informative and well argued, but it only covers the validity of the marriage under civil law, which the Prime Minister did not dispute.

I would say the Prime Minister's central point is that a marriage of the king cannot be a political act in the sense of the constitution without the ministerial countersignature required for political acts. In the absence of a countersignature, the marriage is a civil act of the private citizen Léopold de Saxe-Cobourg affecting the civil rights of his children, but it is not a constitutional act of the King which would confer constitutional rights on the children. That seems reasonable to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
In any case, the point is that the PM does not have to resort to far-fetched arguments to justify Alexandre's or his sisters' exclusion. It suffices to apply a straighforward reading of the constitution. His sisters don't have succession rights because cognatic succession does not apply to them and Alexandre would have been excluded anyway because he married without consent. The only difference in the PM's interpretation is that he believes the exclusion was from birth and I do not.
At the time he delivered his speech Prince Alexandre was unmarried, at least in Belgian law. His and Léa Wolman's marriage in the United Kingdom was not registered in Belgium (or even announced) until 1998.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
I would also suggest to the PM that, if he thinks that it is important for the King of the Belgians to ask for consent to marry, he should have proposed a constitutional amendment to write that down explicitly in the Belgian constitution following the Danish or Dutch examples.
On page 6 of the document the Prime Minister quotes a source stating that the Government read an act consenting to King Baudouin's marriage at his wedding, so the interpretation seems to have been acted on, even without a constitutional amendment.
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Old 11-11-2021, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
And the newspaper De Morgen also about the Decree Nr 5 of 1830:


https://www.demorgen.be/nieuws/neen-....google.com%2F


Declaration of the National Congress on the perpetual exclusion of the House Orange-Nassau from all power in Belgium (Decree No 5 of November 24, 1830)

On behalf of the Belgian people,

The National Congress declares that the members of the House Orange-Nassau are, in perpetuity, excluded from any power in Belgium.



Declaration of the National Congress on the independence of the Belgian people and the exclusion of the House Orange-Nassau (24 februari 1831)

The National Congress,

Declares that it -as a constituent body- wishes to continue the Decrees of November 18 and 24, 1830, relating to the independence of the Belgian people and the exclusion, in perpetuity, of members of the House Orange-Nassau from all power in Belgium.

Entrusts the executive power with the execution of this Decree.

It is very interesting that, per De Morgen, multiple proposals have been made in Parliament over the past thirty years to repeal the decree, but none have obtained the two-thirds supermajority necessary for repealing a constitutional statute.

What I find puzzling is how the interpretation that the decree prohibits all marriages between the Belgian royal family and the House of Orange-Nassau came to be the commonly accepted one. I concede that if for instance King Leopold II had married Princess Marie of the Netherlands, Marie could be categorized as holding a position of power in Belgium as the Queen consort. But if for instance Prince Charles of Belgium had married Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, how could that marriage be equated to Juliana holding a position of power in Belgium?
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Old 11-11-2021, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
It is very interesting that, per De Morgen, multiple proposals have been made in Parliament over the past thirty years to repeal the decree, but none have obtained the two-thirds supermajority necessary for repealing a constitutional statute.

What I find puzzling is how the interpretation that the decree prohibits all marriages between the Belgian royal family and the House of Orange-Nassau came to be the commonly accepted one. I concede that if for instance King Leopold II had married Princess Marie of the Netherlands, Marie could be categorized as holding a position of power in Belgium as the Queen consort. But if for instance Prince Charles of Belgium had married Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, how could that marriage be equated to Juliana holding a position of power in Belgium?

Silly question, but why is it considered a constitutional statute if it is not in the constitution itself? Or does the constiution reference this decree directly?
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Old 11-11-2021, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
Silly question, but why is it considered a constitutional statute if it is not in the constitution itself? Or does the constiution reference this decree directly?
I understood the Decree is one of the Decrees made by the National Congres, the constituent assembly which later made the Constitution.

The decree has a constitutional status, so it seems. The republicans (mostly French-speaking aristocratie) saw that King Willem I and his son the Prince of Orange still could count on a broad support and wanted to rule out -for once and for all- that an Orange-Nassau could return (which was a serious threat for the new nation indeed).

With the secession from the Northern Netherlands, the French-speaking aristocratie re-conquered its leading position in the Southern Netherlands, which it would keep until the 1970's, despite the majority always was Dutch-speaking.

It was a strange revolution, not of the paupers but exactly of the aristocratie and the bourgeoisie which preferred to be powerful "entre nous" in a smaller state instead of being "just a French-speaking region" in a larger Kingdom.
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Old 11-11-2021, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
It is very interesting that, per De Morgen, multiple proposals have been made in Parliament over the past thirty years to repeal the decree, but none have obtained the two-thirds supermajority necessary for repealing a constitutional statute.

What I find puzzling is how the interpretation that the decree prohibits all marriages between the Belgian royal family and the House of Orange-Nassau came to be the commonly accepted one. I concede that if for instance King Leopold II had married Princess Marie of the Netherlands, Marie could be categorized as holding a position of power in Belgium as the Queen consort. But if for instance Prince Charles of Belgium had married Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, how could that marriage be equated to Juliana holding a position of power in Belgium?
Agreed. So, as long as the Belgian partner is willing to give up his/her place in the line of succession there is no problem it seems.

It could even be questioned whether a 'spouse' has any 'power'. So, as long as any children aren't born as 'Orange-Nassaus', they could theoretically marry?! Or would that be stretching it too far.
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Old 11-11-2021, 02:28 PM
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When Elisabeth would marry Claus-Casimir, in theory an Orange-Nassau could return on the throne but most likely Claus-Casimir would simply cease to be a successor in the Netherlands. And his children will be "Van België / De Belgique / Von Belgien" anyway l, most likely with graaf van Oranje-Nassau, jonkheer van Amsberg as subsidiary titles (given the example of Lorenz of Austria-Este).
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Old 11-11-2021, 02:41 PM
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That was my understanding as well.
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Old 11-11-2021, 05:27 PM
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The Netherlands (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) was intended as a strong buffer between France, the German lands and Great-Britain.

When the French-speaking elite in the Southern Netherlands rebelled, naturally France stood en bloc behind them, en passant weakening the buffer state.

Great-Britain was not so keen on helping to keep the Netherlands together because the widower of Princess Charlotte of Wales was "candidate" for the new throne: Leopold von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha. And weakening another colonial power came handy too.

While the military campaign of the Prince of Orange and his brother Prince Frederik (the Ten-Days Campaign) was succesful, it ended in a stalemate because France announced to intervene on behalf of the French-speaking rebelling elite and Great-Britain thought the same: to keep France at distance ánd to help "their" Leopold.

King Willem I and his sons realized that an escalation with France and Great-Britain would be disastrous and ordered the military troops to retreat behind the traditional line between the former United Provinces (now Netherlands) and the former Habsburgian Netherlands (now Belgium). For 9 years Belgium was surrounded with massed troops in the north (Netherlands) and in the east (Luxembourg, where the Dutch King was the Grand-Duke) and in the west (North Sea, where the formidable Dutch navy let Belgium no chance).

Especially the Prince of Orange enjoyed popularity in the Southern Netherlands. He loved Brussels and had a new palace built (picture) where he held a glittering court and had a good rapport with the aristocracy, the who-is-who in now Belgium.

The founding fathers realized the danger of the Orange-Nassaus and with a solemn Decree they wanted to bar them, for once and for all. That this Decree can only be repelaled by a change of the Constitution was intentioned obstruction.

It took 9 years (1830-1839) until the Dutch King finally gave in (enforced by the Government which saw the gigantic costs of nine years maintaining a mobilized amd standing army and navy ). In the meantime in the hearts and minds the Dutch already have said goodbye to "those weird Belgians" and eager to become relieved from the State of War.

That is the background for this quite drastic and "perpetual" abjuration while the Dutch King was in no way a tyrant or a dictator. It was just a clash of two societies, of two languages, of two faiths, of two economic views (the North focused on maritime world trade and colonies, the South focused on manufacture and continental trade), etc.
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Old 11-14-2021, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
The Netherlands (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) was intended as a strong buffer between France, the German lands and Great-Britain.

When the French-speaking elite in the Southern Netherlands rebelled, naturally France stood en bloc behind them, en passant weakening the buffer state.

Great-Britain was not so keen on helping to keep the Netherlands together because the widower of Princess Charlotte of Wales was "candidate" for the new throne: Leopold von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha. And weakening another colonial power came handy too.

While the military campaign of the Prince of Orange and his brother Prince Frederik (the Ten-Days Campaign) was succesful, it ended in a stalemate because France announced to intervene on behalf of the French-speaking rebelling elite and Great-Britain thought the same: to keep France at distance ánd to help "their" Leopold.

King Willem I and his sons realized that an escalation with France and Great-Britain would be disastrous and ordered the military troops to retreat behind the traditional line between the former United Provinces (now Netherlands) and the former Habsburgian Netherlands (now Belgium). For 9 years Belgium was surrounded with massed troops in the north (Netherlands) and in the east (Luxembourg, where the Dutch King was the Grand-Duke) and in the west (North Sea, where the formidable Dutch navy let Belgium no chance).

Especially the Prince of Orange enjoyed popularity in the Southern Netherlands. He loved Brussels and had a new palace built (picture) where he held a glittering court and had a good rapport with the aristocracy, the who-is-who in now Belgium.

The founding fathers realized the danger of the Orange-Nassaus and with a solemn Decree they wanted to bar them, for once and for all. That this Decree can only be repelaled by a change of the Constitution was intentioned obstruction.

It took 9 years (1830-1839) until the Dutch King finally gave in (enforced by the Government which saw the gigantic costs of nine years maintaining a mobilized amd standing army and navy ). In the meantime in the hearts and minds the Dutch already have said goodbye to "those weird Belgians" and eager to become relieved from the State of War.

That is the background for this quite drastic and "perpetual" abjuration while the Dutch King was in no way a tyrant or a dictator. It was just a clash of two societies, of two languages, of two faiths, of two economic views (the North focused on maritime world trade and colonies, the South focused on manufacture and continental trade), etc.
Thank you for the clear background explanation, Duc_et_Pair. Would you have any thoughts on why repeal of the decree has not taken place yet?
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:55 AM
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Le Soir magazine interviewed Prof. Vincent Dujardin of the Université Catholique de Louvain. He claims that the media reports are nonsense (farfelu) and that no law against such a marriage exists. Members of the house of Orange are indeed prohibited from holding a function with authority in Belgium. But a hypothetical marriage between Gabriel and Amalia does not mean that Amalia will have such a function with any power in the country. That would be the case if the would run for mayor, judge, prime minister or if she would serve as a regent, all of which would be against the Belgian constitution.

https://soirmag.lesoir.be/406767/art...our-impossible

He does admit that a case can be made for hypothetical offspring of such a couple being excluded from the throne. I assume that he means provided these children will be considered members of the house of Orange.
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Old 03-28-2022, 05:24 PM
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It is interesting to compare the timing of the decrees by which royal marriages have been authorized.

Prince Philippe's engagement was announced on September 10, 1999. King Albert II signed the decree authorizing his son's marriage on September 19, 1999, a delay of nine days.

Prince Laurent's engagement was announced on December 19, 2002. King Albert II signed the decree authorizing his son's marriage on the very same day.

Prince Amedeo requested permission for his marriage September 20, 2015. King Philippe signed the decree granting retroactive approval for the marriage on November 12, 2015, a delay of almost two months.

Princess Maria Laura's engagement was announced on December 27, 2021. King Philippe signed the decree approving her marriage January 31, 2022, a delay of one month.

Prince Albert's engagement was announced on April 12, 1959, and the decree authorizing his marriage was signed by King Baudouin on June 4, 1959.

No decrees were signed in connection with the marriages of Prince Albert in 1900 and Prince Leopold in 1926, even though both marriages were regarded as having received the royal consent.



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And when was the Decree conerning the marriage of Princess Astrid signed?.

Princess Astrid's marriage was granted royal consent retroactively by constitutional amendment.

When she married in 1984, the requirement imposed by the Constitution to obtain the Sovereign's consent applied strictly to princes, not princesses. In 1984, the Constitution stated:

The constitutional powers of the King are hereditary through the direct, natural and legitimate descent from H.M. Leopold, George, Christian, Frederick of Saxe-Coburg, from male to male, by order of primogeniture and with the permanent exclusion of women and of their descendants.

The prince who marries without the King’s consent or, in his absence, without the consent of those exercising the King’s powers in cases provided for by the Constitution shall be deprived of his right to the crown.

In 1991, the requirement was amended to also apply to princesses, and for that matter to non-princes and non-princesses who are natural and legitimate descendants of King Leopold I.

The constitutional powers of the King are hereditary through the direct, natural and legitimate descent from H.M. Leopold, George, Christian, Frederick of Saxe-Coburg, by order of primogeniture.

The descendant mentioned in the first paragraph who marries without the King’s consent or, in his absence, without the consent of those exercising the King’s powers in cases provided for by the Constitution shall be deprived of his right to the crown.

At the same time, a transitional provision was inserted into the Constitution which retroactively granted the necessary consent to Princess Astrid's marriage.

I. – The provisions of Article 85 will for the first time be applicable to the progeny of H.R.H. Prince Albert, Felix, Humbert, Theodore, Christian, Eugene, Marie, Prince of Liege, Prince of Belgium, it being understood that the marriage of H.R.H. Princess Astrid, Josephine, Charlotte, Fabrizia, Elisabeth, Paola, Marie, Princess of Belgium to Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este, is regarded as having obtained the consent described in Article 85, second paragraph.

https://www.lachambre.be/kvvcr/pdf_s...GrondwetUK.pdf
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