Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Prince Philippe strikes back
A new book about the Belgian royal family is causing a great stir in Belgium. The book, Question royale, was written by journalist Frederic Deborsu, who apparently had made a lot of claims about the Belgian royal family, without actually verifying his sources.
Among other scandalous statements, Deborsu claims that the heir to the throne, Prince Philippe, prefers men to women, and because of this, his marriage to Mathilde d'Udeckem d'Acoz was arranged and all four of their children were conceived by artificial insemination. The Erasmus Hospital in Brussels where all four children were born apparently specializes in IVF.
Deborsu also claims Mathilde benefited from her marriage, as her father, Patrick, who was raised to rank of count on her wedding day, had serious financial issues.
The Duke of Brabant has now decided to hit back at Deborsu's claims. "The day Mathilde said yes to my marriage proposal was the happiest day of my life. Since that day our four children have surrounded us with love which we return in abundance."
During a recent trip to Turkey, the Duke and Duchess of Brabant spoke to the press. The Duke said "Love is like a verb. You get to work at it each day." Princess Mathilde responded: "Philippe, you're my best friend. I have 100% confidence in you."
Deborsu told the press: "I am reliable. I can fall back on twenty years of experience as an investigative journalists. I regret my sources are anonymous witnesses. If I had named them, no one would have doubted the credibility of my book."
In the decade or so before Prince Philippe's marriages journalists and others did write about the prince's alleged lack of suitably as heir. Some said the real reason for the change in the succession law (from Salic to gender equality) was to allow Philippe's sister, Princess Astrid, married to Archduke Lorenz of Austria. To further ensure Astrid's position, Lorenz was created Prince of Belgium. Their children are also Princes and Princesses of Belgium.
In the 1980s, there were reports in the Times (of London) and other more reliable newspapers that King Baudouin wanted the throne to pass to his nephew, Philippe, because he believed his brother, the Prince of Liege was not suitable or prepared to be king.
Philippe did not marry until he was 38 years old. I do not recall any articles reporting on a romance between Philippe and Mathilde, and that the engagement announcement was a total surprise.
For the record, I am not jumping on Deborsu's bandwagon But his claims about Philippe as the future king are not new, and were oft-reported long before his marriage.
I also think it is easy to quickly dismiss something perceived as "scandal." Consider all the recriminations that came out of Andrew Morton's books on the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Morton also used anonymous sources. We now know Morton did not write with forked tongue.
This book has been published in Dutch and French editions. The book is not available in English.