After a seven-year legal battle, a DNA test confirmed that Delphine Boël is the child of King Albert II

By Stephanie Petit
January 27, 2020 02:35 PM
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Credit: William Van Hecke/Getty; Isopix/REX

The former king of Belgium has publicly conceded that Delphine Boël is his biological daughter.

After a seven-year legal battle, a DNA test confirmed that Boël is the child of King Albert II. The 85-year-old royal, who abdicated the throne in 2013 citing poor health, released a statement through his lawyer on Monday, recognizing the 51-year-old artist as his daughter.

“King Albert has decided to put an end to this painful procedure in good conscience,” his lawyer said in the statement.

Since Boël’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, was not married to the former king, she is considered illegitimate and will not receive a title or place in the line of succession.

Boël fought a lengthy legal fight for public recognition. In Nov. 2018, she won a major court advantage when, after a five-year legal battle, a Brussels court ordered the royal to submit to a paternity test by giving a DNA sample to resolve Boël’s suit.

King Albert II of Belgium
| Credit: BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND/Pool Getty

The ex-king refused to cooperate and appealed the decision. But in May, his appeal was struck down in Brussels. Faced with DNA evidence that industrialist Jacques Boël, the man who raised Delphine as his daughter, was not her biological father, the Brussels court decreed that in the absence of Albert’s DNA sample, she would be presumed to be his daughter.

In the ruling, the Brussels judge has decided to fine King Albert $5,600 for each day he refused to submit to the test.

Delphine Boël
| Credit: Olivier Polet/Getty

Stories concerning the birth of a Belgian royal love child circulated for decades before becoming public with the publication 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.

Boël was born in 1968. She first came forward in 2005 claiming to have been born from a long affair between Albert and her mother and that as a child he had acknowledged her in private and had been very supportive.

Delphine Boël
| Credit: ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty

Things changed in 1993, she claims, when Albert’s older brother King Baudouin died suddenly of a heart attack. Childless at the time of his death, Baudouin’s throne moved to Albert and his side of the family. The newly acclaimed King Albert II reportedly called Boël in 1993 once before cutting all ties.

He denied her claims since she first went public in 2005. He also opposed her legal action, which began in 2013, shortly after he abdicated in favor of his son, Phillipe. (Until his abdication, Albert was protected as King under Belgium’s Constitution from suit or prosecution as head of state.)

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For her part, Boël’s mother Baroness Longchamps has long supported her daughter’s claim. Acknowledging she met the playboy prince in Greece when her father was Belgium’s Ambassador, she has provided intimate and somewhat explicit details of their relationship to television and other media outlets in Belgium and other European countries.