It’s official: Former King Albert is Delphine Boël’s father

Summary

The results of a DNA test submitted by Belgium’s former king have been released , confirming an open secret that has lasted 20 years

‘Relieved and emotional’

A DNA test has proven that Belgium’s former king, Albert II, is the biological father of artist Delphine Boël (pictured). The release of the results of the test end a seven-year legal battle and a 20-year effort by Boël to get Albert to recognise her as his daughter.

Boël is “relieved and emotional,” said her lawyer Marc Uyttendaele, “but it is still very painful because she was never able to have a real father”.

Boël’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, stated in a TV documentary in 2013 that Albert was Boël’s biological daughter and that he acknowledged her as such privately during their 16-year affair in the 1960s and ’70s. Albert was married to queen Paola at the time, and the baroness was married to Jacques Boël, who became Boël’s legal father.

The documentary was released in the same year that Albert abdicated the throne to Filip, when he also lost his immunity. As Albert had not responded to Boël’s request to recognise her as his daughter for some 13 years, she took the matter to court.

Legal recognition

Last year, the 85-year-old former monarch was ordered to undergo a DNA test. While lawyers representing the royal family appealed the decision to release the results, they were unsuccessful. The results were publicly announced yesterday.

Albert’s lawyers released a statement saying that the former king was not involved in any decision-making processes in Boël’s upbringing but would recognise her as his legal daughter. “While there are arguments that could be made that legal paternity is not necessarily connected with biological paternity and that how this entire procedure has been carried out is questionable,” read the statement, “King Albert has decided not to pursue these arguments so that he can put an end to this painful procedure with honour and dignity.”

Because her birth happened out of wedlock, Boël, 51, will not carry the title of princess and is not in line to the throne. She does stand to inherit, though how much would depend on whether Albert dies before Paola.

She was shut out, emotionally and socially

- Marc Uyttendaele

According to their marriage contract, Paola will inherit a lion’s share of Albert’s estate, which would then only go to the children she had with Albert: King Filip, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent. If Paola dies before Albert, however, Boël legally has the right to at least one-eighth of his estate.

Boël has repeatedly stated that she isn’t interested in the money or in being a member of the royal family, only in being recognised by a father who she says was present in her childhood but then disappeared. “She was shut out, emotionally and socially,” said Uyttendaele. “Jacques Boël kept up appearances to avoid a scandal, but he never thought of her as his daughter. On top of that, Albert rejected her even when it was clear that he was her father.”

Boël “accepted the secrecy of her origins for years, in the public interest,” he continued, adding that this case has also been about preventing her own children from “being confronted by the same difficulties and suffering”.

Photo ©Dirk Waem/BELGA