The Belgian king’s love-child has won the right to call herself a princess after a seven-year legal battle to prove he is her father.
Delphine Boel, 52, was told she could use the royal title as well as the surname of former King Albert II, 86, in a ruling by the Brussels Court of Appeal on Thursday.
Boel, who works as an artist, will now be called Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha, princess of Belgium, according to her lawyer.
Her two children, Joséphine and Oscar, will also receive royal titles and the right to be referred to as his or her royal highness.
Delphine Boel, 52, (pictured at a court hearing earlier this month) won the right to call herself a princess after a seven-year legal battle to prove former King Albert II is her father
In a statement issued after the ruling, Boel’s representatives said: ‘She is delighted with this court decision, which puts an end to a lengthy procedure that was particularly painful for her and her family.
‘A judicial victory will never replace a father’s love, but it does offer a sense of justice, which is further strengthened by the fact that many more children who have gone through similar ordeals may be able to find the strength to face them.’
He added that Boel was pleased that she would now be treated the same as Albert’s three other children – Philippe, now King of Belgium, Prince Laurent and Princess Astrid.
Rumors about Albert (right) and Boel’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps (left), came to light in a biography of Albert’s wife, Queen Paola, was published in 1999
Boel, who works as an artist, repeatedly stated that she was the king’s daughter and used it as a theme in some of her professional artwork (pictured on a sculpted ‘throne’ aged 30)
The ruling had been in the offing since Albert decided in January to no longer fight a claim that he was Boel’s father after finally agreeing to have a DNA test which returned a positive result.
His lawyers said previously that ‘scientific conclusions indicate that he is the biological father of Mrs Delphine Boel’.
Rumors about Albert and Boel’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, – the aristocratic wife of a well-heeled industrialist – had been around for years.
But the news that the king might have had a child with her broke into the open when a biography of Albert’s wife, Queen Paola, was published in 1999.
The former king had never made any public statement on the allegations but in his Christmas message to the nation that year, King Albert alluded to a past infidelity.
King Philippe of Belgium (pictured) took over from his father after he abdicated in July 2013 citing ill health
Princess Astrid, daughter of the former King Albert II, (left) and his youngest son Prince Laurent (right)
Boel’s lawyers said she was pleased that she would now be treated the same as Albert’s three other children – Philippe (left), now King of Belgium, Prince Laurent (centre) and Princess Astrid (right) with their parents Albert and his wife Paola in 1965
Former King of Belgium: Albert II
Albert II ascended to the throne in 1993 after the unexpected death of his brother King Baudouin, aged 62, who had no children with his wife Queen Fabiola.
A renowned bon viveur, he was popular with both people and politicians for his easy going style and was seen as a unifying factor in the linguistically divided country.
The role was largely constitutional with only a ceremonial role in affairs.
But Albert was forced to make rare political interventions during a long period of political stalemate in the country in 2010 and 2011.
He remained on the throne for two decades until he cited ill health in July 2013 and abdicated in favour of his son Philippe.
He said he and Queen Paola lived through a ‘crisis’ in the late 1960s that almost wrecked their marriage but that ‘a long while ago’ they overcame their marital problems.
Boel, who bears a striking resemblance to certain members of the royal family, repeatedly stated that she was the King’s daughter and used it as a theme in some of her professional artwork.
Albert could not be compelled to court while on the throne – limiting Boel’s chances of proving her case.
But, in 2013, she began court proceedings after he abdicated and in turn lost his royal immunity.
Boel maintains that she brought the paternity case because she was angry at having been cold-shouldered by the royal family.
Her previous lawyer stated that she was not motivated by money, since she was better off as a Boël – an family of industrialists worth around $1billion (£774million).
Boel’s mother gave a TV interview the day Albert stepped down from his role during which she spoke publicly for the first time about her affair which occurred before he became king.
Baroness Longchamps said that her affair, with the then Prince Albert of Liege, started in 1966 and ran until 1984.
She added that he was a regular presence during the early years of her daughter’s life.
Longchamps divorced the claimant’s legal father, Jacques Boel, in 1978.
Belgian media reports claimed that he then disinherited his daughter because of the embarrassment that the scandal had caused to the family.