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De Standaard - Belgium | Friday, July 19, 2013

Belgian royal family is theatre of the absurd

Prince Philip will succeed his father Albert II as King of Belgium on Sunday. But the role of the monarchy is becoming purely ceremonial, comments the left-liberal daily De Standaard: "The history of the Belgian princes is one of steadily dwindling power. Leopold III's catastrophic decision to go it alone in the Second World War and Baudouin's resistance to the abortion laws were but isolated attempts to buck the trend. ... The ceremonial monarchy must apply strict financial rules to the royal family to rule out all risk of future scandal. As a result this institution is becoming nothing but a golden cage. Absurdity threatens: a family has been assigned the task of producing heirs till the end of time but is allowed neither power nor opinion. ... Ultimately the situation will be as the British King George V predicted in the film The King's Speech: '... We have become actors.'

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