Thursday, November 14, 2013

My kingdom for a pension! Poor King Albert’s tin cupping ways.

Last summer, Good King Albert of Belgium abdicated his throne, handing the crown and scepter over to his son, Philippe.

Al apparently wasn’t much of a negotiator, and what looked like a golden parachute at the time – a cool $1.2 million a year – has turned out to be the royal equivalent of the least you can collect on Social Security.

Now King Albert is back at the trough, rattling around the Belgian parliament with a tin cup, looking for something closer to the $15 million he got when he “worked” full-time as King.

French-language Le Soir cited unidentified sources as saying the former monarch would like the state to cover the upkeep on his main residence, Belvedere Castle, north of Brussels. It also said the king's intermediaries had floated the idea of government funds for his yacht, or to have the Royal Navy take over its crewing, fueling and repairs. (Source: LA Times.)

Then there’s the home in Paris, and the home in Rome…

So far, King Albert is not having much luck increasing those defined benefits which, I’m guessing, grossly succeed any defined contribution he ever made. And the Belgian parliament apparently agrees:

On the floor of parliament, news of the 79-year-old royal's plight was met with mockery and derision by representatives of Belgians struggling with nearly 8% unemployment and a $17-billion budget deficit…Socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was apparently unmoved. He was quoted by news media as vowing that "the government does not intend to change a comma" of the royal compensation program.

It’s hard to come up with a lot of sympathy for a retired royal with a sweetheart deal that gives him $1.2 million to spend each year.

Especially because I don’t imagine that he had to work all that hard to “earn” it.

I mean, this is Belgium, for crying out loud.

What’d he have to do? Not play favorites when it comes to Flemings vs. Walloons?

God knows I have little sympathy for the British Royal Family, but at least the main ones seem to work pretty darned hard, what with having to make an appearance at every ribbon cutting for a salmon hatchery, well-baby clinic, and new trade mission. Which there’s no doubt a lot more of in Great Britain (population: 63 million) than in Belgium (population: 11 million).

Plus, other than the Belgian news and EuroRoyal Monthly, no ones stalking your every waking moment the way the British royals get stalked.

I don’t remember the last time that I saw a letter to the editor of People commenting on Queen Paola’s hats, or noting that Albert wasn’t half the man King Baudouin was. No one weighing in Prince Amadeo’s girlfriends. No Mrs. Millie Frump of Dahlia, Ohio, who just knows in her royal-watching heart of hearts that Princess Diana is looking down from heaven, just delighted with Prince Harry’s new gal. (So, Mrs. Frump, just how well did you know Diana?)

I also want to note that the British Royals do an awful lot for the country’s tourism trade, as well as the sale of kitsch. (Remember when Diana’s sister, on the eve of her wedding to Charles, told her that she couldn’t back out because her face was already on the tea towels? Well, I do.)

Anyway, it doesn't look like King Albert is making any headway with his tin cupping. Who wants to hear someone retired on $1.2 million a year poor mouthing?

Sell one of your homes, why don’t you?

Trade in the royal yacht for a Boston Whaler.

Worse comes to worst, you can have King Philippe tack an in-law apartment onto the royal palace.

You abdicated for him. He owes you one more than the Belgian taxpayers do.

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