Former Belgian king to appear in court over paternity claim: Lawyer

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Former Belgian king Albert II will have to appear in court in February in a paternity suit brought by a Belgian artist who says she is his daughter, the artist's lawyer said on Tuesday (Oct 25).

Ms Delphine Boel, 48, has sought for more than a decade to gain the royal family's acceptance and end what she says is prejudice against her because of the question over her paternity.

King Albert has never commented on the matter himself and there was no response from Belgium's royal palace on Tuesday.

Ms Boel's case, however, gained public attention in a 1999 biography of Queen Paola, King Albert's Italian wife, which noted he had an extramarital relationship from which a daughter was born in the 1960s.

"The court has ordered that those involved in the case have to appear in person," lawyer Alain De Jonge told Reuters, adding that the king would have to appear on Feb. 21.

King Albert II, 82, abdicated in 2013, citing health reasons, and was succeeded by his son Philippe.

In the first stage of the legal suit, the court has to decide whether or not to revoke the status of Ms Boel's legal father, billionaire businessman Jacques Boel.

In a second stage, the court will decide whether or not the king is required to give a DNA sample to establish whether he is the biological father.

"Nobody can be forced to give a DNA test but if he refuses it would be an acknowledgement of his paternity," Mr De Jonge added.

Belgian courts do not comment on family lawsuits.