Brussels (AFP) - Prince Laurent, brother to Belgium's King Philippe, attacked the royal family and their entourage Thursday, saying they were like the Stasi secret police and had sabotaged his career for years.
"My family has never supported me," Laurent told RTBF public television, complaining bitterly that he had been hard done by despite the rich external trappings of royalty.
"It started with my uncle King Baudouin. Then with my father Albert II. With them it was like the Stasi," he said, referring to the dreaded secret police of Communist East Germany.
"Today, I have the impression it continues with my brother, King Philippe. Their mistake (was) to have taken on an entourage which wished me harm and wanted to prevent me working."
The royal family has been a key unifying factor since Belgium gained independence in 1830, helping hold together its sharply divided French- and Dutch-speaking communities, but it has not always been popular.
The palace said Laurent had "somewhat hurt his father, King Albert II, his uncle King Baudouin and his brother King Philippe," in a statement released Thursday evening by the Belga news agency.
"King Philippe nevertheless wants to continue with their joint efforts. Their projects are unchanged," the statement added.
Laurent, 51, has a reputation as the black sheep of the Belgian royal family after run-ins with the law for speeding and his outspokenness.
He now stands 11th in the line of succession to the throne after Belgium changed the law in 1991 to end primogeniture.
Married with three children of his own, Laurent has tried to build a career in environmental and animal protection but his choice of partners has turned out badly.
Ventures with a son of Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi without government approval raised more than eyebrows, leading to a cut in his royal grant and a temporary suspension of official duties in 2011.
A foundation Laurent set up to promote sustainable development 10 years ago is now in financial difficulty.
Laurent told the Libre Belgique daily Thursday that his family continued to "put a spoke in his wheels" after sabotaging his work for years.
"All my life, I have been blocked ... It is really complicated to work in such a situation," he said.