Come Again? Belgian PM Loses Hearing After Starting Pistol Fired Near His Head

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Tuesday was forced to postpone an appearance in parliament and seek medical treatment after a member of the royal family damaged his hearing by firing a starting gun too close to his ear.

The incident occurred this weekend at the starting ceremony of the annual Brussels 20km run, sponsored by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Michel, 41, was standing right next to Belgium's Princess Astrid, the youngest sister of King Philippe, when she fired the starting gun for the race just inches from his left ear.

Photographs of Michel wincing in pain started circulating in social media, with many users initially laughing at the episode, until they found out the prime minister could have been seriously injured.

Michel had undergone emergency medical treatment for partial deafness and was forced to clear his schedule on Tuesday, including his presentation of a national investment plan to the Parliament.

"The prime minister must follow a number of treatments within 48 hours after the incident," his spokesman told reporters.

Princess Astrid's spokesman Pierre Emmanuel De Bauw said that she was also startled by the loud sound but did not suffer any hearing damage.

The incident came just days after the Belgian government played host to US President Donald Trump ahead of his first meeting with EU and NATO leaders.

Belgian paper Le Soir reported that Trump complemented the Belgian chocolates presented to him as a gift, while complaining about the difficulties he experienced as he tried building golf courses in Europe.