The once-secret daughter of the former king of Belgium, Albert II, has won a long legal battle to be recognized as a princess. In a crowning achievement for Delphine Boel, 52, the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday that she had the right to her Royal father's surname. Boël will now be called Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha, princess of Belgium.
The recognition comes after a seven-year-long battle wherein the court ruled that Boel is indeed the biological daughter of the former king. Albert II had contested the claims for seven years and even failed to submit to a DNA paternity test when ordered to do so by the Brussels Court of Appeal in October 2018.
Victory at Last
It was a big victory for Boel, an artist and sculptor by profession, who filed a lawsuit in 2013 to have the former king, who is now 86 years old, recognized as her father. Boel claimed that Albert II had an affair with her mother, Sibylle de Selys Longchamps, resulting in her birth in 1968.
However, the former king had repeatedly denied the claims. The ruling comes as a surprise as its decision had been scheduled for October 29. Boel will now change her surname to her father's, Saxe-Cobourg, and her two children, Josephine and Oscar, will also receive royal titles. Naturally, Boel is finally happy with the court's ruling. Boël's lawyers said that their client was pleased that she would now be treated the same as Albert's three other children, including the current king, Philippe.
"She is delighted with this court decision which ends a long process which is particularly painful for her and her family," the statement from her lawyers read. "A legal victory will never replace the love of a father but offers a sense of justice," the statement added. That said, despite his constant denial, Albert II, finally acknowledged Boel was his daughter in January.
Fight for Justice
Albert abdicated the throne in 2013 in favor of his son Philippe, citing concerns over his age and health. However, one of the main reasons behind that was the legal battle over the paternity claims made by Boël.
Albert II married Paola Ruffo di Calabria, later Queen Paola of Belgium, in 1959 and became king in 1993. Rumors of a child born from an extramarital affair started doing the rounds a few years after his ascension to the throne, fueled by allegations published in a 1999 biography about Queen Paola.
Boel's name as the alleged child went on to become headlines soon after that. Boel too started speaking openly about her claims to media in the following years, despite the king's repeated denials of paternity. Boël, reportedly, had spent time with Albert as a child, nicknaming him "Papillon" (Butterfly), but she had unsuccessfully sought acknowledgement for more than 20 years.
Her claims finally started gathering strength Boël's boost last autumn after 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 former king initially was hesitant but finally provide a saliva sample, which proved his paternity, after the courts threatened to fine him $5,865 (€5,000) for every day he refused.