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Belgium's King Philippe forced to reform royal finances

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Belgium’s King Albert II (R) and Crown Prince Philippe pose before a reception on July 8, 2013 at Laeken royal castle in Brussels.

Europe’s ongoing financial crisis has forced European monarchies to reconsider their spending including Belgium’s new King Philippe who must reform the royal expenses.

The 79-year-old King Albert II stepped down from the throne in favor of his son Crown Prince Philippe on July 21 after reigning over Belgium for 20 years.

The new King Philippe must apply a reform of the royal finances approved by the government last month.

While the new king, his queen and father will be spared cuts, the other members of the family will see their state-paid allowances reduced and will lose their exemptions from income tax and VAT.

The royal official budget, known as the ‘Civil List’, in Belgium runs to 10.6 million euros, plus an additional nearly 18 million euros of ‘hidden costs’ per year, which is not covered in the king’s budget but is being paid by various ministries.

The Federal State also pays wages to various members of the Royal Family, including the king’s children,

Under the reform, the widow of the late King Baudoin, Queen Fabiola, will see her yearly wage of 1.4 million euros divided by three. The new king’s salary will be unchanged at nearly a million euros. His siblings Astrid and Laurent will still get more than 300,000 a year.

The total cost of Belgium’s monarchy tops 30 million euros, while the reform shaves away around one million euros.

This is while the outgoing King Albert will also keep his annual tax-free allowance of 11.5 million euros and his personal fortune.

The Belgian monarchy says its fortune is only worth about 12.4 million euros but financial experts put it closer to one billion euros, with property and contents valued at some 780 million euros.


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