Former King Albert II admitted to being the biological father of Delphine Boël (here in 2008 with her husband). - Thierry Charlier / AP / SIPA
The ex-king of the Belgians Albert II admitted on Monday to being the biological father of a girl born out of wedlock more than 50 years ago, following a DNA test to which justice has forced him, after several years of procedure.
"Tonight is clearly a relief," recognized by the voice of his lawyer Delphine Boël, whose story had hit the headlines for many years in Belgium. This 51-year-old Belgian plastic artist claims to have been born from the long relationship that her mother, Sibylle de Sélys Longchamps, had in the 1960s and 1970s with Albert, then crown prince, married since 1959 to Paola Ruffo di Calabria.
The ex-king (85 years old), who reigned from 1993 to 2013, had always denied this paternity until now. But last May, he had to submit to this test, following a decision by the Brussels Court of Appeal. The result of this test was initially to remain confidential. And drama, Monday evening, the statement of his lawyers fell. "His Majesty King Albert II took note of the results of the DNA sample which he lent himself to at the request of the Brussels Court of Appeal. The scientific conclusions indicate that he is the biological father of Mrs. Delphine Boël ”, they indicate.
"Lack of elegance, humanity, even kindness"
The ex-king decided "to put an end in honor and dignity to this painful procedure", they add. The king regrets that this procedure "did not respect the privacy of the parties", according to the press release. For her illegitimate daughter, Delphine Boël, it's the end of a long battle. In 2013, after a failed conciliation attempt, she decided to take the case to court. "She is successful," said her lawyer Marc Uyttendaele, in an interview on Belgian television RTL. However, "the emotional wound, nothing will heal it," he added, criticizing the press release from the king for his "lack of elegance, humanity, even kindness."
King Albert II reigned until 2013 before abdicating, at 79, in favor of his eldest son Philippe. Albert had married in July 1959 an Italian princess, Paola Ruffo di Calabria, with whom he had three children: Philippe (April 15, 1960), Astrid (June 5, 1962) and Laurent (October 19, 1963). The couple went through a deep crisis in the 1960s and 70s and were on the verge of separation before coming to terms. In 1999, the existence of an illegitimate daughter, the fruit of a long affair with the baroness of Selys Longchamps, is mentioned in a biography of Queen Paola.
She could claim "a quarter of what other children will be entitled to"
While the authorship of Albert II is no longer in doubt, the question now arises of the legacy of Delphine Böel on the death of her father. Asked about this on RTL, his lawyer Marc Uyttendaele simply replied: "he is a legitimate child like any other". Albert II's lawyer, Alain Berenboom, for his part affirmed on Belgian television RTBF: "Legally, he sort of stops the legal battle there and accepts that Delphine Boël becomes her fourth child".
RTL says Delphine Boël, recognized as daughter of Albert, could claim "a quarter of what other children will be entitled to" in the death of the sovereign since a recent inheritance law was amended in Belgium . But it should not have endowment and access to the throne since the Belgian constitution provides that the heirs of the crown must be legitimate, therefore born within marriage.