Artist Delphine Boël will be able to use the title of Princess of Belgium following a Court of Appeals ruling in Brussels on Thursday

By Peter Mikelbank and Phil Boucher
October 02, 2020 02:26 PM
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Delphine Boel natural daughter of king Albert II
Credit: Olivier Polet/Corbis via Getty

Introducing, Princess Delphine!

Belgium officially has a new royal after a court in Brussels ruled on Thursday that Delphine Boël, the one-time secret daughter of ex-King Albert II, has the same legal rights as his other children.

The decision entitles the 52-year-old artist to call herself Princess of Belgium and extends to her two children, Josephine 17, and Oscar, 12, who can now also call themselves Princess and Prince!

It is the latest twist in Boël's two-decades-long legal battle to be formally recognized as King Albert's daughter, following a January DNA test that confirmed she is the 85-year-old royal's child.

"She is delighted with this court decision which puts an end to a long procedure which is particularly painful for her and her family," Boël's lawyer Marc Uyttendaele said in a statement.

"A legal victory will never replace the love of a father but offers a sense of justice," he added.

Delphine Boël Appears For The Last Hearing At The Court Of Appeal In Brussels
Delphine Boël Appears at The Court Of Appeal in Brussels
| Credit: Olivier Matthys/Getty

The decision is likely to be the final episode in a story filled with embarrassment for the former King, who abdicated in 2013 citing poor health.

Last winter, Albert II conceded to fathering Boel and dropped his opposition to being recognized as her father following a court-imposed DNA exam and televised claims of royal indiscretion by his former mistress, Boël's mother Baroness Sybille Selys de Longchamps.

He later declared his desire "to put an end in honor and dignity to this painful procedure."

King Albert II of Belgium
King Albert II of Belgium
| Credit: Isopix/REX

On Sept. 10, lawyers from both parties squared off in the Brussels court to argue how to formally establish the bond between Albert and his fourth child, and its legal implications.

"We discussed what Madame Boël considers to be the accessories of this request for recognition," Alain Berenboom, a lawyer representing the ex-King explained, including "the question of the name and holding of the title of Princess of Belgium."

"She doesn't want to be discounted as a child," Uyttendaele, who argued Boël case, replied. "She wants exactly the same prerogatives, titles and qualities as her brothers and sister."

Following Thursday's ruling, this is something she has now achieved.

Baron Dieter von Malsen Ponickau with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps at Osterberg castle
Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps and Baron Dieter von Malsen Ponickau
| Credit: Wolfgang Kuhn/United Archives via Getty

Stories concerning a Belgian royal love child circulated for decades before becoming public with the release of a 1999 biography of Albert’s Italian-born wife, Queen Paola.

The couple married in 1956 and had three children, including current King Phillipe, while Boël, a Belgian artist and noblewoman, was born in 1968.

She first came forward with her claim in 2005, adding that Albert had privately acknowledged her when she was a young child and been very supportive.

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Delphine Boël to Constitutional court
Delphine Boël at the Constitutional court in Brussels
| Credit: William Van Hecke/Corbis via Getty

According to Boël, this all changed when Albert's childless older brother King Baudouin died suddenly in 1993, pushing the playboy prince onto the Belgian throne as King Albert II.

While he reportedly called Boël on one occasion after he assumed the throne, Albert afterward cut all ties and denied her claims when she first went public in 2005.

He also opposed her legal actions, which began in 2013, shortly after he abdicated in favor of his son, Phillipe.

For her part, Boël’s mother Baroness Longchamps, 87, publically supported her daughter’s claims throughout the proceedings, saying she met a young Albert in Greece when her father was Belgium’s Ambassador.

Baroness Longchamps also provided intimate, explicit details to television and other media outlets in an attempt to prove her story.