Prince Laurent of Belgium placed in induced coma

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Prince Laurent of Belgium, the naughty younger brother of King Philippe, has been placed in a medically-induced coma in a Brussels hospital, the palace said Tuesday.

The 50-year-old prince, 11th in line to the throne, was rushed to hospital a week ago suffering from pneumonia and has been "placed in an artificial coma to optimise the treatment", said palace spokesman Pierre-Emmanuel de Bauw.

His condition "is stable", the spokesman added.

King Philippe, the oldest son of Albert II who abdicated in his favour last year, visited Laurent on Monday while Queen Mathilde went to the hospital Tuesday.

Sometimes referred to as the "Prince Maudit" - the Cursed Prince - Laurent is widely reported to suffer from depression.

Fined several times for speeding and chided for fraternising with African leaders without the government's consent, Laurent has long been considered the "enfant terrible" of the Belgian royal family.

The prince made headlines last year when he was hospitalised with internal injuries after falling while skiing in Austria.

But he is also seen as a likeable figure, if something of an oddball, as an animal lover who recently confessed he wished he could "converse with an octopus or a fly."

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