The once-secret daughter of former Belgian King Albert II has won a legal battle over her rights to a royal title and will now be officially known as Princess of Belgium.
The Brussels Court of Appeal ruled the king’s biological daughter Delphine Boël is entitled to the the same rights and royal titles as her father’s other three children.
The 52-year-old sculptor Boël launched a lawsuit in 2013 to have the former king, who is now 86 years old, recognized as her father. She claimed the king had an affair with her mother, Sibylle de Selys Longchamps, resulting in her birth in 1968.
The king contested the claims for seven years and even failed to submit to a DNA paternity test when ordered to do so by the Brussels Court of Appleal in October 2018. Last May, the court ruled that the former king would face a daily fine of €5,000 ($5,600) until he took the test – which he finally agreed to.
In January, he acknowledged he was indeed Boël’s biological father.
Boël will now change her last name to that of her father “Saxe Cobourg.” Her children will also become Princess and Prince of Belgium.
“She is delighted with this court decision which puts an end to a long procedure which is particularly painful for her and her family,” Boël’s lawyer Yves-Henri Leleu said in a statement to CNN. “A legal victory will never replace the love of a father but offers a sense of justice,” he added.
Albert II married Paola Ruffo di Calabria, later Queen Paola of Belgium, in 1959 and became king in 1993. In 2013, at the age of 79, Albert II abdicated the throne in favor of his son Philippe, citing concerns over his age and health.
Rumors about a child born from an extramarital affair began floating around just a few years after his ascension to the throne, fueled by allegations published in a 1999 biography about Queen Paola.
The scandal, and Boel’s name as the alleged child, were splashed across front pages of newspapers. She began speaking openly about the case to media in the following years, despite the king’s repeated denials of paternity.