Belgian Crown Prince at heart of royal scandal

 

This time, Belgium's royal family came out swinging.

Crown Prince Philippe, 52, had been depicted in a book as less of a
man than is needed to become the next king of Belgium. Again.

So, in an exceptional move, the royal palace struck back this week with an official complaint to a media ethics body against a journalist who published "Royal Questions," a new book that includes damaging allegations about the crown prince's character and marriage.

The royal household almost never deigns to answer allegations but the crown prince himself also made an equally rare public denial to the book's allegations last week.

"The day that Mathilde said 'Yes' to my proposal was the happiest day of my life," he said.

''It is extremely rare to have a reaction like that," historian Marc Reynebeau said Friday in a telephone interview. ''It is as if they wanted to show: 'You can claim whatever, but don't exaggerate."'

The image and credibility of the royal family matters in this European Union nation, which is riven by divisions between its 6.5 million Dutch-speakers and its 4.5 million French-speakers. Three things still unite Belgium: Admiration for the king, a taste for fries and beer and a love of the national soccer team.

Journalists yesterday also questioned the significance of author Frederic Deborsu's probing into the life of Philippe, who is expected to take over from King Albert.

Allegations about " his 'forced marriage,' the birth of his children in a hospital specializing in artificial procreation," the journalist group AJP said, "are they really in the public interest?"

For most of his life, the crown prince has been seen as a less-than-credible successor for his father, who is now 78.

Philippe was considered aloof and awkward, with the charisma of a civil servant. Until his engagement a dozen years ago, he was seemingly headed for terminal bachelorship.

''The general perception is that he is not up to the job to become king," Reynebeau said. ''Nobody knows, of course, because it is all speculation."

King Albert, who succeeded his brother in 1993, saw his own image darkened a dozen years ago when he had to acknowledge that he had fathered a daughter out of wedlock.

The scandal caused by Deborsu's book comes on the heels of a major municipal election victory by the separatist N-VA party in northern Flanders last month. The party aims to break up the bilingual nation along linguistic lines and is already looking forward to nationwide elections in 2014.

If the country breaks up, Belgium's royal house would become obsolete.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum