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Delphine Boël in court over right to be called Princess of Belgium
Surrounded by lawyers, press and the police, Delphine Boël attended a hearing on Thursday about her right to the title of Princess of Belgium. Earlier this year, the former king Albert admitted that he was Boël’s biological father.
Boël was born to Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps in 1968. The baroness was married to lord Jacques Boël at the time, who accepted and raised Boël as his own daughter. Albert, the father of the current King Philippe, was not yet king at the time, but was married to Paola, and the couple had three children.
According to de Selys Longchamps, her affair with Albert lasted some 16 years. Boël was aware that Albert was her father, and the pair had a relationship when she was a child.
Boël has been using legal avenues for many years to get Albert to recognise her as his daughter, but he has always refused. The courts forced him to undergo a DNA test in 2018, the results of which were released early this year.
Now the question facing the court is whether Boël has the right to be called “her royal highness” and Princess of Belgium. These are the same titles afforded to Astrid, Albert’s daughter with his wife, the former queen Paola.
“These titles belong to her the same as they belong to King Albert’s other children,” said Boël’s lawyer Marc Uyttendaele. “My client’s wish was only ever to be treated the same as the king’s other children, her brothers and sister.”
Boël has previously stated that she found it important that her children know their lineage. “We simply cannot accept that one child be treated differently than other,” said Uyttendaele. “For Ms Boël, this extends of course to her children.”
Lawyers representing the monarchy argue that it is not up to the appeals court to decide on royal titles but rather up to the executive administration. In Belgium, that means a decree issued by the king in co-operation with the federal government. The appeals court, in any case, is expected to enter a judgement on the issue of titles by the end of next month.
Photo ©Eric Lalmand/BELGA