by Scott Mehl
Princess Claire of Belgium
Princess Claire of Belgium (neé Claire Louise Coombs) is the wife of Prince Laurent, youngest child of King Albert II of Belgium and Paola Ruffo di Calabria. She was born on January 18, 1974, in Bath, England, the daughter of Nicholas Coombs and Nicole Eva Mertens. She has an older sister, Joanna, and a younger brother, Matthew.
The family moved to Belgium when Claire was 3 years old. She completed her primary and secondary education at the Institut de la Providence, in Wavre. She then studied as a surveyor, completing her training in 1999. She then worked for Brone & Oldenhove, a surveying firm in Wavre where she had also worked as an intern during her education.
In December 2002, the engagement of Claire Coombs and Prince Laurent was announced by the Royal Palace. The couple had first met in 2000 at the home of a mutual friend. Their marriage took place on April 12, 2003. A civil ceremony was held at Brussels Town Hall, followed by a religious ceremony at the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula in Brussels. By Royal Decree issued by the King, Claire was elevated to Princess of Belgium in her own right. Claire and Laurent live at Villa Clémentine in Tervuren, with their three children:
In 2004, Princess Claire was chosen to serve as an assessor at a polling station in Tervuren during the regional and European elections. This was the first time a member of the Belgian Royal Family had taken on a position like this, and it was hailed as a sign of the modernization of the monarchy.
Unlike her two sisters-in-law, Queen Mathilde and Princess Astrid, Princess Claire has no official role. However, she is often in attendance at official events and state functions, beside her husband. She serves as Patron of The Brussels Choral Society and Green Spaces and Garden Arts, and is the Honorary President of the Pro Renovassistance Foundation.
In 2013, she was appointed as administrator-delegate of Rec Arlon 67, a real estate company created to buy, renovate and rent properties located 63, 65 and 67, rue d’Arlon in Brussels.