Belgium’sprime minister Charles Michel has received treatment for partial hearing loss after Princess Astrid fired a starting pistol for a race in Brussels within inches of his ear, his spokesman has confirmed.
Mr Michel, 41, would be seen wincing with pain in a picture taken as Astrid, the younger sister of Belgium’s King Philippe, fired the blank within a hair’s breadth of his left ear to kick off the 20-kilometre (12-mile) race on Sunday.
Astrid, 54, went on to join 40,000 others and run the race herself. Kenyan David Maru came first in the men’s race, on one hour and 37 seconds. Belgian runner Sophie Hardy came first in the women’s on one hour, 13 minutes and 42 seconds.
The French-speaking prime minister had to postpone an appearance in parliament to present a national investment plan to undergo tests, his office said.
Mr Michel was suffering from “partial deafness” and “tinnitus”, or ringing in the ears, his spokesman Frederic Cauderlier, declining to provide further details.
Mr Michel underwent extensive medical tests on Monday and Tuesday morning in a bid to treat the problem “as soon as possible after the incident,” he added.
He was due to resume his schedule later on Tuesday.
The incident prompted a raft of reactions on Twitter.
One mockingly noted that the prime minister could finally justify “turning a deaf ear” in politics.
“I thought he’d’ been hard of hearing for the past two years,” wrote manu gach.
Another wondered why a security agent hadn’t “anticipated the risk” in a country that has seen major recent terror attacks.
This was not Mr Michel’s only brush with a big shot of late.
The incident came a week after the Belgian premier hosted US President Donald Trump, who met him and the king before attending summits with the EU and NATO.
Mr Trump went on to give NATO allies a thick ear for failing to honour defence spending commitments. Mr Michel called on Mr Trump to unequivocally back the Paris Agreement on climate change and honour the US commitment to multilateral trade agreements, two issues about which Mr Trump has raised doubts.
Meanwhile, the American first lady, Melania, was taken on a tour of a museum dedicated to Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte in the company of wives of other national leaders.
“You never know,” said museum director Michel Draguet. “Maybe Donald Trump will move from one kind of surrealism to another, thanks to Magritte’s ideas.”