Belgium's Prince Laurent Voices Support for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Exit from Royal Life

Stephanie Petit

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting support from someone who understands the ups and downs of royal life.

Following the couple’s announcement that they’ll step back as senior members of the British royal family, Prince Laurent of Belgium is defending their decision. The younger brother to King Philippe told The Telegraph: “Prince Harry’s decision proves one thing [about being royal]: You are an object. That is unacceptable.”

Prince Laurent is no stranger to coming under criticism himself. In July, he made headlines for taking a phone call during a military parade. And after attending a Chinese embassy reception last year without government permission, lawmakers voted for a 15% cut to his $378,000 annual allowance in March 2018, according to the BBC.

“This allowance, the reduction of which is being discussed as a result of political or media currents, is the price of a life — the price of my life, which is largely behind me now,” Laurent wrote in a letter to parliament, arguing that he could not have a normal job due to his royal status.

Isopix/Shutterstock; DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS /WPA Pool/Getty

“A person should not be the property of his family or a government. Or you should be compensated for it. That’s why I never agreed with it myself. And I was punished for that,” said Prince Laurent. “Hopefully that will change, because I don’t want to be the victim of archaic people. I no longer want to be a thing owned by a structure or a government or a state.”

Prince Laurent and Princess Claire of Belgium

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Prince Laurent, 56, admitted in 2016 that, at times, he gets “a little tired” of royal life.

“It’s true that sometimes I get a little tired of it,” he told a class of sixth graders. “You do not learn to become a prince, it’s something that you must feel.”

As for any hopes of taking on the throne himself one day, the prince replied humorously that he could organize “the paratroopers to stage a coup at the Palace – after that we’ll see how it goes.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, made it clear that they no longer want to rely on public funds in their bombshell Jan. 8 announcement to step down as senior working members, revealing that they are working to become “financially independent.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not receive Sovereign Grant funding and have agreed to uphold the values of the Queen. However, a royal source says Prince Charles will be offering private financial support to his younger son and daughter-in-law as they embark on their new chapter.

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The couple — who will no longer be using their royal titles — is free to seek employment, but have promised that everything they do will uphold the values of her majesty, the source shares. They have no commercial agreements signed or in the pipeline at the moment.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Toby Melville - Pool/Getty

In a statement on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth announced that she and her family had “found a constructive and supportive way forward” after Harry and Meghan’s choice to exit the royal family.

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” the Queen said in the statement.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family,” the statement read. “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”