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Under fire, Belgian prince agrees to play by the rules

Belgium’s rebellious Prince Laurent vowed to play by the rules Friday after the king’s youngest son irritated the government and his father by travelling to Africa without official permission.

Seeking to put an end to a controversy that threatened his annual 300,000-euro ($433,000) royal stipend, his lawyer said Laurent accepted new rules governing his activities.

The 47-year-old prince agreed to abide by the rules after a long meeting with Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who publicly rebuked Laurent for travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo without authorisation last month.

Prince Laurent got into trouble again on Thursday when it emerged that he met in Brussels last week with a Libyan diplomat who joined the opposition.

Leterme warned that the prince, 12th in line to the throne, could lose his annual allowance if he refused to follow the protocol.

In an usual public display of discontent, the royal palace revealed that King Albert II was unhappy with his son’s behaviour.

"A solution to calm things down" was found during the meeting between the premier and the prince, Laurent’s attorney Pierre Legros was quoted as saying by Belga news agency.

The prince will send Leterme a personal letter outlining the terms they agreed to during their meeting to prevent a repeat of the controversy, Legros said.

The agreement sets the future relations between the royal family and the government, the lawyer said without providing more details.