Belgian ex-king's lovechild wins right to royal title

James Crisp
·2-min read
Belgian artist Delphine Boel (L) on April 26, 2018 and former King Albert II of Belgium (R) n July 3, 2013 - AFP
Belgian artist Delphine Boel (L) on April 26, 2018 and former King Albert II of Belgium (R) n July 3, 2013 - AFP

A royal lovechild who endured a two decades long battle to be recognised by the former King of Belgium will finally be awarded the title of princess.

Delphine Boël’s lawyers said that the aristocrat and artist would take King Albert II’s name and be known as Delphine Saxe-Cobourg and Princess of Belgium after the Brussels appeal court endorsed the results of a DNA test on Thursday.

Ms Boël had been reported to be Albert's illegitimate daughter since 1997. She will now be addressed as “her Royal Highness”, and her two children Joséphine and Oscar will also have the title princess and prince. 

“The court affirms that King Albert II is her father," lawyer Marc Uyttendaele said, which was confirmed by a judicial source, “her other requests that she be treated on the same footing as her brothers and sister were also granted."

He added, “A judicial victory will never replace a father's love, but it does offer a sense of justice, which is further strengthened by the fact that many more children who have gone through similar ordeals may be able to find the strength to face them."

Albert can still appeal the decision, which was expected on October 29 but handed down early. 

The sculptor will be entitled to a share of the former monarch’s estate when he dies but will not get an endowment from the Belgian state as Albert’s other children do.  Albert must pay court costs of £ 8,520.

Ms Boël, 52, first asked the then-monarch to recognise her 20 years ago. After Albert, 86, abdicated, Ms Boël began what would be a seven year court battle with her biological father. 

He was eventually ordered to take a DNA test. Albert only agreed to the test after the court threatened to fine him £4,370 for every day he refused and after a string of failed appeals. His lawyers also opposed Ms Boel being granted her new royal title. 

Albert abdicated in 2013 in favour of his son Philippe, 60, citing health reasons. He has a daughter Astrid, 58 and another son Laurent, 56.

Ms Boël was raised by Jacques Boël, a successful industrialist and her mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, an aristocrat

Mrs de Selys Longchamps is reported to have had an 18-year affair with Albert before he took the throne. 

Ms Boel's parentage became the subject of fevered speculation in Belgium after the 1999 publication of a biography of Queen Paola, Albert’s Italian wife. 

Albert chose to stay with Paola rather than abdicate to be with Mrs de Selys Longchamps, it is claimed.