- Brief history
On the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday, King Leopold II decided in a letter dated of 9 April 1900 which was addressed to the government, to donate the immovable property that he had acquired over the previous years and that contributed to natural heritage towards the Belgian Nation.
He required that a number of these goods could never be sold; some of them had to retain their original function and appearance; part of them had to remain at the disposal of the successors to the throne.
In a letter dated of 15 November 1900, some other goods were added to the inventory of 9 April.
The State accepted the donation by Law of 31 December 1903 (Belgian Official Journal of 1 January 1904).
Furthermore, some immovable properties of the Patrimony originate from the Treaty for the Cession of the Independent State of the Congo dated of 28 November 1907 and the Additional Act to this Treaty dated of 5 March 1908, approved by the laws of 18 October 1908 (Belgian Official Journal of 19 October 1908).
Originally, all of these goods were managed by the Public Property department of the Ministry of Finance.
Over time, it was deemed appropriate to establish the Royal Trust as an autonomous public institution under supervision of the Finance Minister (Royal Decree of 9 April 1930 – Belgian Official Journal of 29 May 1930). It has its own legal personality and is financially completely autonomous, meaning that it accounts for all its expenditure with its own incomes, without placing any burden on the Treasury.
The immovable patrimony can be split up into three categories:
1. In accordance with the binding obligations imposed to the beneficiary State, the following goods are placed at the disposal of the royal family,
- which actually has the use of them: castles of Ciergnon, Fenffe and Villers-sur-Lesse, castle of Belvédère, castle and residence of Stuyvenberg, the greenhouses of Laken (Laeken), the residence in Tervuren. In addition, the Law of 28 February 1882 on hunting provided that the hunting right on the grounds of the Ardenne domain, was reserved for the Crown. Currently, approximately 2,500 ha of the total area of 6,700 ha are used for this purpose.
- which agreed with another purpose: castle of Ferage (rented), castle of Hertoginnedal (rented as guesthouse for the State).
- which uses the goods for the needs of its staff: various residences in Laken and Ardenne.
2. However, a number of goods were given a general purpose in the course of the years, among which the Japanese tower, the Chinese pavilion, the Elisabeth park and the Colonial garden in Laken (Laeken), the Bellevue hotel in Brussels, the Arboretum in Tervuren, the Duden park in Vorst (Forest), grounds annexed to the Maria Hendrika park in Ostend, grounds annexed to the Leopold II park in Nieuwpoort.
3. The remaining elements of the institution’s immovable patrimony can be considered as private and are managed accordingly. These goods are rented on manageable terms. The proceeds should allow the Royal Trust to cover its expenditure with its incomes, as stipulated by the law.
Below you will find some of the main elements:
Ardenne: agricultural land: 700 ha spread over 11 agricultural holdings and 850 ha leased by locals; hunting right on appr. 4,200 ha (land and woods); proceeds of annual tree felling on an area of appr. 4,800 ha; golf course in the park of the former castle of Ardenne.
Tervuren: Golf and castle of Ravenstein; grounds of the British School of Brussels.
Coast: the Venetian galleries and the adjacent park in Ostend; grounds annexed to the Hippodrome Wellington in Ostend; the so-called Norwegian stables in Ostend; the “first” royal residence at Langestraat in Ostend; golf of Klemskerke.
Brussels and surroundings: Duden park in Vorst (Forest): castle (Narafi) and sports stadium (Royale Union); ponds of Bosvoorde; installations of the Bruxelles Royal Yacht Club in Laken (Laeken), along the sea canal; grounds of the Finance sports centre “Inter Nos” in Strombeek-Bever; movie theater Vendôme in Elsene (Ixelles); the Coudenberg offices, Jan Jacobs and Quatre Bras in Brussels, which supply the largest part of the incomes.
Furthermore, the Royal Trust is the owner of the chapel of Küssnacht in Switzerland, monument in memory of Queen Astrid.
Finally, the institution also owns movable property, among which a portfolio having a value of appr. 36 million Euros, which is a considerable source of incomes. Also, Count and Countess de Ribaucourt donated an important collection of old weapons which are shown in the military museum located near the Jubelpark.
The Royal Trust is managed by a board of directors which consists of ten members, amongst which four dignitaries or former court dignitaries. Kings who have reigned or their surviving spouses may be represented, supernumerary, by a dignitary or former dignitary in cases where they occupy a residence belonging to the Royal Trust. The members are assigned by Royal Decree. Yet, the intendant of the Civil list is legally included in the board. An age limit of sixty-five years applies.
Current composition of the board of directors:
- H. Nys, honorary governor of the Brussels Capital Region
- Ph. Lens, senior inspector at the Administration of land survey, registry and public property
- C. Delbeuck, director-general of the Direction of natural resources and the environment of the Walloon Region, technical advisor
- J. Hennes, equerry to the King
- H. D’Hondt, president of the Management Committee of the FPS Finance, administrative advisor
- M. Evenepoel, administrator-general of the Agency for nature and forest of the Flemish government, technical advisor
- T. Janssens de Bisthoven, advisor at the House of Queen Fabiola
- C. Kirschen, honorary deputy head of cabinet to the King
- G. Noels, chief economist and partner of the plc Econopolis
- V. Pardoen, intendant of the Civil List
- P. Warnauts, Head of protocol to the Court
Secretary, without having the right to vote:
- B. Bekaert, inspector at the Administration of land survey, registry and public property.
Royal palace of Brussels :
+32 (0) 255 120 20
- General accounts of business year 2012
(in thousand Euro)
Total income: 6,306
- rents: 3,360 (55.28 %)
- leases for hunting and fishing: 535 (8.49 %)
- goods exploited in-house: 1,079 (17.11 %)
- portfolio: 1,185 (18.79 %)
- various incomes: 147 (2.33 %)
Compared to 2011, total incomes have increased by 16.0 %.
Total expenditure: 5,212
- staff expenditure: 3,8711 (74.27 %)
- charges and taxes: 279 (5.35 %)
- supplies and works: 851 (16.33 %)
- overhead expenses: 211 (4.05 %)
Compared to 2011, total expenditure has increased by 3.0 %: staff expenditure increased by 0.3 %, charges and taxes increased by 21.3 %, supplies and works increased by 25.6 % and overhead expenses increased by 77.3 %.
Total income: 31,038, 340 of which regarding the immovable property and 30,698 regarding the portfolio.
Total expenditure: 9,251, 1 of which regarding the immovable property and 9,250 regarding the portfolio.
Ordinary budget + 1.094 Extraordinary budget + 21.787 End balance + 22.881
Summary of the three previous business years
2009 2010 2011 Ordinary budget Income 3.924 4.142 5.434 Expedniture 5.503 4.936 5.374 = - 1.579 = - 794 = 60 Extraordinary budget Income - 3.902 1.901 Expenditure 42 40 2 = -42 = 3.862 = 1.899 End balance - 1.621 + 3.068 +1.959
Following verification by a representative of the Finance minister, the annual accounts are presented to the Court of Audit.