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Belgian queen embroiled in inheritance scandal

Queen Fabiola of Belgium is seen leaving a church service held at the Saint Michel's Cathedral in Brussels for Belgium's National Day, July 21, 2011. THIERRY CHARLIER

BRUSSELS - The Belgian government has chastised Queen Fabiola over her inheritance plans, which have been widely seen as a tax dodge on a fortune amassed with taxpayer money.

In a rare rebuke targeted at the monarchy, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo told parliament on Thursday that he "shared'' the emotions the scandal had caused.

He also called the plans of the widow of the late King Baudouin to create a private fund to deal with her inheritance ethically flawed, even if strictly legal. "Because of the position of Queen Fabiola and the stipend annually provided by parliament, this fund causes ethical problems,'' he said.

According to the Belgian press, the 84-yrar-old Spanish-born Fabiola has said no money from her government stipend is going into the foundation she created to help her nephews and nieces and Catholic charities on her death. She said her yearly stipend of about 1.4 million euro goes to support her home, primarily the staff.

Cash for the foundation, she claims, comes from property and art work that she and and her brothers inherited from their royal relatives in Spain.