Belgian PM to lay down law to errant prince

Fri Apr 8, 2011 9:27am EDT
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By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium's caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme was to tell Prince Laurent Friday to abide by strict new rules or lose his allowance after the errant royal's conduct angered both the king and the government.

The 47-year-old prince, 12th in line to the throne, made an unauthorized trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo last month, prompting rare criticism from his father.

It has since come to light that the prince also recently met a Libyan diplomat, a meeting Leterme described as "very risky and unwise."

Leterme was due to meet the prince Friday afternoon to set out new rules on his conduct and to repeat that he would not be allowed to repeat such "unacceptable activities."

Speaking in parliament Thursday, the prime minister did not say what the new rules were.

A number of lawmakers have called for and end to Laurent's 300,000 euro ($432,100) annual tax-free royal stipend.

Leterme is due to report back to a parliamentary committee next week about his meeting with Laurent.

The prince has said both the Congo trip and the Libyan meeting related to his work on reforestation and involved no meddling in politics, although President Laurent Kabila greeted him while he was in Congo.   Continued...

<p>Belgium's Prince Laurent arrives at a religious service (Te Deum) at the Sint-Gudule cathedral in honour of King's Day in Brussels November 15, 2009. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir</p>