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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 18:00 GMT
Belgium's royal 'enfant terrible' to wed
Prince Laurent and fiancee Claire Coombs
The couple is to marry in Brussels in April
Belgium's Prince Laurent, known as the enfant terrible of the royal family, is to marry his British-born girlfriend Claire Coombs in April.

The 39-year-old prince, the second son of King Albert II, will wed the 28-year-old, who has a British father and a Belgian mother, on 12 April in Brussels, the royal palace said in a statement.

Women are the most perfect beings, but women I would like to live and have children with are more and more rare

Prince Laurent
The announcement comes after months of speculation about the royal romance in the Belgian media.

Prince Laurent, who lists among his interests fast cars and the protection of nature and animals, is the youngest son of King Albert II and Queen Paola.

He has made headlines by being caught speeding several times, and also has a passion for jet skiing.

During a spell in the navy he qualified as a diver and a helicopter pilot.

"Women are the most perfect beings, but women I would like to live and have children with are more and more rare," he once said.

The prince, the second of three children, is eighth in line to the throne, after his elder brother Philippe, heir to the throne, and his daughter Elisabeth, as well as his sister Astrid and her children.

Under Belgium's constitution, the prince's choice had to be approved by the government, or he might have lost his right to the crown.

Trilingual

Ms Coombs, a property surveyor, was born in Bath and grew up in Wavre, outside Brussels.

After the wedding she will become a princess, but has said she will carry on working as a surveyor.

She had to take a day off from work to attend Thursday's wedding announcement to the press.

Bilingual in French and English, Ms Coombs has recently been perfecting her Flemish, which is spoken by 60% of Belgians.

See also:

29 Oct 01 | Europe
04 Dec 99 | Europe
31 Aug 01 | Country profiles
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