Belgian court to rule on princess title for former king's love child

BRUSSELS • Will there be a new Belgian princess?

A court in Belgium will rule next month on what rights and titles can be granted to Ms Delphine Boel, recently recognised as the daughter of former Belgian King Albert II after a DNA test he was forced to take.

The Brussels appeals court, which last Thursday heard lawyers on both sides, must still formally establish this direct line of descent and its legal ramifications.

Ms Boel wants the title of princess of Belgium, but Albert II is against it, their lawyers said.

The court will rule on the issue on Oct 29, a spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

A 52-year-old artist, Ms Boel was born from Albert II's affair of nearly 20 years with Belgian aristocrat Sybille de Selys Longchamps. At the time, he was heir to the throne and married since 1959 to the future Queen Paola.

He went on to reign from 1993 to 2013, when he handed the crown to his son Philippe.

Since 1999, the year a journalist revealed the existence of Albert II's secret daughter, the king had always denied his paternity - even though he had been in contact with her when she was a child.

But then a court ordered a DNA test and levied a fine of €5,000 (S$8,100) a day for each day he refused.

In January, the 86-year-old Albert II finally acknowledged that he was Ms Boel's father after the DNA test came back positive.

Her lawyer, Mr Marc Uyttendaele, told reporters last Thursday that she wants to have the same "rights and titles" as her three siblings, Philippe, Laurent and Astrid.


Belgian artist Delphine Boel, recently recognised as the daughter of former Belgian King Albert II, after a hearing at the Justice Palace in Brussels last Thursday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

That includes being given the title "princess of Belgium".

But Mr Alain Berenboom, Albert II's lawyer, said that the title was usually granted by royal decree, and that it is not up to a court to decide.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2020, with the headline 'Belgian court to rule on princess title for former king's love child'. Print Edition | Subscribe