Delphine Boël: Belgian king's daughter wins right to call herself princess

By Daniel Boffey

An artist who successfully fought a seven-year legal battle to prove she was the daughter of the former king of Belgium, Albert II, has won the right to be recognised as a princess.

The Brussels Court of Appeal has ruled that Delphine Boël, 52, had the right to her Royal father’s surname after a bitter battle for acknowledgement.

Boël will be called Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha, princess of Belgium, her lawyer told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. Her two children, Joséphine and Oscar, will also be recognised as a prince and princess of Belgium.

In a statement, Boël’s lawyers said their client was pleased that she would be treated the same as Albert’s three other children, including the current king, Philippe.

They added: “She is delighted with this court decision which ends a long process which is particularly painful for her and her family. A legal victory will never replace the love of a father but offers a feeling of justice, further reinforced by the fact that many children who have gone through the same ordeals will find the strength to face them.”

Albert, 86, who abdicated in 2013 partly because of legal battles over the paternity claims made by Boël, was forced to acknowledge she was his daughter in January after a court ordered a DNA test. Boël was the result of an extra-marital affair between Albert and Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps.

Boël had spent time with Albert as a child, nicknaming him “Papillon” (Butterfly), but she had vainly sought acknowledgement for more than 20 years.

She launched a legal battle to prove paternity in June 2013, after the elder of her two children, Joséphine, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia, and she felt the absence of her biological father.

Boël’s claim received a vital boost last autumn when the court of appeal ruled that Jacques Boël, with whom she grew up, was not her biological father and instructed an expert to carry out a test to compare her DNA with Albert’s.

The king agreed to provide a saliva sample – which proved his paternity – after the courts threatened to fine him €5,000 (£4,370) for every day he refused.

On the day Albert stepped down from the throne seven years ago, citing ill-health, Boël’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, gave a TV interview where she spoke publicly for the first time about her affair with the king.

“I thought I could not have children because I had had an infection,” she said of the relationship, which is said to have lasted from 1966 to 1984. “We had not taken any precautions.”

She continued: “It was a beautiful period. Delphine was a love child. Albert was not the father figure but he was very sweet to her.”