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New rules for scandal-hit prince

Belgium's government has set a list of conditions it wants King Albert's youngest son to abide by after a series of scandals that even angered the monarch.

Prince Laurent, the King's third child, has been accused of taking unauthorised travel to Congo, Belgium's former colony, and meeting a Libyan diplomat who had joined the opposition, also without any diplomatic oversight.

Prime Minister Yves Leterme told parliament the conditions, which could have consequences for Laurent's annual stipend of some £260,000, "should make a continuation and repeat of the unacceptable activities and behaviour impossible."

Mr Leterme did not tell legislators exactly what measures would be taken, but most parties in parliament have made it clear his stipend should be cut if he continues to disregard government advice. Support is all the broader since King Albert has taken the exceptional measures of letting it be known that he shared the anger many have with the wayward prince.

"The king also wants that there is order in the house," Mr Leterme said afterward.

Mr Leterme and leading politicians have stressed that the prince's allowance comes with obligations too. "A number of things are evident, they are based on commonsense, but apparently those conditions are not always met," the premier said.

The decision follows last month's visit by the 47-year-old to Congo, where he met with President Joseph Kabila without diplomatic oversight. Compounding the unauthorised trip was the news that Laurent has also met with a Libyan diplomat who had joined the opposition.

Laurent said he travelled to Congo to discuss deforestation and sustainable development with leading officials and did not require the express approval of the government.

There long had been rumours about parental displeasure with youngest son Laurent - dubbed "enfant terrible" in the media for his long tradition of courting controversy - either for his speedy driving, love of expensive furniture, former romantic connections and, now, unauthorised travel.

Laurent's adviser, Pierre Legros, said early this week they all pointed to "a campaign to destroy the prince."

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