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Albert II and Paola welcome new princess Delphine to Belvédère Castle
Belgium’s former king Albert II has met with Princess Delphine for the first time in about 40 years. In a photo that will go down in the history of Belgian royalty, Delphine is pictured with her biological father and his wife, the former queen Paola.
"On Sunday, a new chapter began, rich in emotions, peace of mind, understanding and hope,” read a statement from the royal palace signed by Albert, Paola and Delphine. “During our meeting at the Belvédère castle, each of us was able to express our feelings and experiences in serenity and empathy.”
Delphine, 52, was invited to the Belvédere on the royal domain in Laeken, where Albert and Paola live. The visit follows Delphine’s seven-year court battle to be recognised as Albert’s daughter, a claim he disputed for the last 20 years.
Delphine was born to Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, who had an affair with Albert from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, before he became the king but during his marriage to Paola. Delphine recently also won the right to be called Princess of Belgium.
According to the statement, the family will get together again in the future. “After all of the turmoil, suffering and injury, it is time for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Together, we have decided to walk this new path. This will take patience and effort, but we are determined.”
The communication lies in shrill contrast to that of the previous years, in which short press statements were made by the monarchy denying that Albert II, now 86, was Delphine’s father, refusal to provide a DNA sample and then, finally, admitting the truth once the courts forced him to provide the sample.
The meeting between Delphine and the former royal couple follows a similar one less than two weeks ago between the new princess and her half-brother, the current King Philippe. It also follows an interesting remark made last week by Philippe’s brother, Prince Laurent, to VTM: “I have known her for 20 years, and she knows that our door – my wife and I – our door is always open to her. For you, that is something new, for me it isn’t.”
Photo courtesy Belgian Monarchy