That’s Princess Delphine to you: Belgium has another royal


Delphine Boël has won the legal right to carry Albert II’s surname and the title Princess of Belgium

Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha

Belgian artist Delphine Boël has won the right to be called a princess, following a seven-year legal battle to prove she is the daughter of Belgium’s former king Albert II. The Brussels Court of Appeal ruled last week that Boël, 52, can use her father’s surname and will be known as Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha, Princess of Belgium.

Delphine (pictured) will be treated in the same way as Albert’s other children, Astrid, Laurent and the current king, Philippe, and be addressed as Her Royal Highness. Her own two children, Joséphine and Oscar, will also become princess and prince.

Her battle for acknowledgement began in 2013, when she announced that the then reigning King Albert was her biological father. Delphine’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, confirmed the claim, saying that she was born during her 16-year-affair with Albert. Jacques Boël, who was married to the Baroness, raised Delphine as his own.

Earlier this year, DNA testing backed up Delphine’s claim that Albert was her father. The court has now ruled on her title.

People think it was because of the title and everything, but it’s not. I just wanted to be the same

- Princess Delphine

Delphine told VRT in an interview yesterday that she did not ask for the title when she began the legal battle because she did not know that Albert would deny his paternity to the extent that he did. “A press [statement] came out saying ‘Actually, I never thought she was my daughter’, and I felt so betrayed … I decided if that’s the case, I want exactly the same thing as my brothers and sisters. People think it was because of the title and everything, but it’s not. I just wanted to be the same.”

As the only child of nobleman and industrialist Jacques Boël, Delphine was in line to inherit a large share of the family’s estimated €1.6 billion fortune. Estimates of Albert’s worth vary, but it is thought to be around €12.5 million.

Each of Albert’s four children will be legally entitled to one-quarter of half of this amount each, or €1.5 million, on his death. As Delphine can only likely inherit from one father, she has given up a fortune to be legally recognised as the former king’s daughter.

Albert, 86, who abdicated in 2013, partly due to the legal battles over Delphine’s paternity claims, was forced to acknowledge she was his daughter when the courts ordered a DNA test. He agreed to provide the saliva sample that proved his paternity only after he was threatened with a fine of €5,000 for every day he refused.

“I’m very happy and very relieved it’s over,” said Delphine. “I do wish him the best, I wish him good health and happiness.”

Photo ©Thierry Roge/BELGA