The Hague – Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende defended Crown Prince Willem-Alexander's plans to build a holiday home in Mozambique during a parliamentary debate Thursday.
The crown prince and his wife, Princess Máxima, are planning to build a luxury resort on a peninsula on the Mozambican coast.
The prince and the developers involved say the billion-euro project will benefit the local population and include a school and a clinic.
However, their claims are disputed, and local people are allegedly being chased off their land to make way for the project.
The controversy has led to critical questions being asked both in the Dutch press and by MPs.
Opposition in parliament is being led by left-wing parties, with MPs calling for the project to be scrapped.
In response, Balkenende said extensive research had been conducted on the holiday house and there was no longer any obstacles that stood between the construction of the holiday house.
Less support from public and MPs
Meanwhile, an opinion poll by TNS Nipo reveals sympathy for the Dutch royal family is declining.
Thirty-seven percent of people polled felt less sympathy for Queen Beatrix and her family.
The dip in popularity is largely due to the crown prince’s controversial holiday in Mozambique and the state allowances for members of the royal, says TNS Nipo.
Half of the people polled want Balkenende to ask the crown prince to stop the Mozambique building project while a majority of 72 percent Queen Beatrix should have proposed a freeze of her own allowance.
Four out of 10 people questioned want a total freeze of the royal family budget, and a third of them want the allowances to be reduced.
The royal house is due to receive a budget increase in 2010 while the government announced plans to cut public expenses by 20 percent due to the ongoing economic crisis.
The royal budget of EUR 39.6 million does not include security expenses, state visits abroad and maintenance of royal palaces.
The poll mirrors what various parties in the parliament are seeking for.
The Labour party says the government should no longer reimburse the royal family’s travel expenses is budgeted at EUR 610,000 for the coming year while the Socialist party is calling for a freeze of the royal house’s annual income.
Balkenende concluded the parliamentary debate with promises to look critically at the royal budget. He also suggested limiting reimbursement of private flights to only Queen Beatrix, the crown prince and his wife.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica