Prince Laurent of Belgium, brother of current King Philippe, said in an interview that the monarchy is a “medieval institution”.
The royal even asked if Belgium actually needed a king. “What I don’t understand is that society must always have such a figure above society: a president, prime minister, or a king,” he said.
According to Prince Laurent, “A royal family is based on a structure older than the Middle Ages, but that structure has not been adjusted enough so far, you could say I am living somewhere in the Middle Ages.”
In the interview with the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, the soon-to-be 60-year-old Prince admitted he would rather stop being a public figure and promote his environmental ideas, which he says are more important than he is.
He owns a foundation that helps the disenfranchised to get free vet-care for their pets and which supports many causes protecting nature and the climate.
One of those causes was a Libyan reforestation project that fell apart, leaving the Prince facing accusations of fraud and extortion of Libya’s sovereign wealth fund which he denies.
With the outbreak of the civil war of 2011 in the country, the project was cancelled and now the Prince is seeking around €50 million in compensation from the Libyan government.
The courts have sided with him but the Prince says claim is on hold as the UN is blocking Libyan money transfer while it waits for a stable government to be formed in the country.
He also spoke about his late uncle King Baudouin. The King is said to have been very much opposed to the prospect of Prince Laurent ever ascending the throne. The monarch was the driving force in altering the Constitution so women could inherit the role, pushing the Prince down to 13th in line.
Despite this, Prince Laurent has expressed fondness for his late uncle, describing him as tough but fair. “He was very strict with me, but I forgave him. He also asked me to be forgiving to him.”