With four lavish homes and a fuel-guzzling yacht to maintain, retired Belgian King Albert II is reportedly finding it difficult to get by on his royal pension of $1.2 million a year.
Granted, he took a big pay cut when he abdicated in July, passing along the $15 million-plus stipend for the ruling monarch to his son and successor, Philippe.
But times are tough in the kingdom, and Albert’s back-channel approaches to the government for a bigger allowance have been spurned, the newspapers Le Soir and De Standaard reported this week.
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.
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 percent unemployment and a $17 billion budget deficit. And 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.
Biden, Goldberg ride America’s rails
Here’s a couple you didn’t expect to see riding the train together on a Friday afternoon: Vice President Joe Biden and Whoopi Goldberg. The vice president’s office tweeted a photo of Biden and the Oscar-winning comedienne sitting side by side and smiling on an Amtrak train.
Biden on Friday was scheduled to travel to his home state of Delaware to accept an award from the Delaware Barristers Association. A lifelong Amtrak passenger, Biden frequently takes the train to and from weekend stays at his Delaware home.
The vice president’s office says the locomotive rendezvous was a complete coincidence. Goldberg helped raise money for President Barack Obama’s re-election. And Biden once chatted up Goldberg and her gal pals as a guest on ABC’s “The View.”
The birthday bunch
Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson is 78. Actor Charlie Robinson is 68. Actor Robert David Hall is 65. Actor Lou Ferrigno is 62. Rapper Pepa (Salt-N-Pepa) is 44. Rapper Scarface (Geto Boys) is 43. Blues singer Susan Tedeschi is 43. Singer Nick Lachey (98 Degrees) is 40. Rhythm-and-blues singer Sisqo (Dru Hill) is 35.