Europe

Belgium's ex-King Albert II admits fathering child after DNA test

Delphine Boël (L) and former King Albert II (R) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Belgian artist Delphine Boël (L) had long said Albert II was her father

Former Belgian King Albert II has admitted he is the father of a woman born from an affair, after he was forced to give a DNA test which came back positive.

He had been fighting the paternity claim by Belgian artist Delphine Boël, 51, for more than a decade.

He lost his immunity from prosecution after he abdicated in 2013 due to ill health.

Ms Boël's lawyer said the admission from the former king was a "relief".

In a statement released on Monday, the ex-king's lawyers said he had "learnt the results of the DNA test... [and] the scientific conclusions indicate that he is the biological father of Mrs Delphine Boël".

The lawyers said the 85-year-old had decided to halt the legal battle, which had dragged on since 2013, and he now "accepts Delphine Boël becomes his fourth child".

Ms Boël's lawyer, Marc Uyttendaele, told RTL television "her life has been a long nightmare because of this quest for identity".

He added: "She had a biological father who brutally rejected her when this paternity [case] publicly emerged". He added that she launched the legal fight "to avoid her children carrying this weight".

In May last year, the Brussels appeals court ruled the ex-king should be penalised €5,000 (£4,370) a day for refusing to take the test.

What is the background of the case?

Rumours that the king had an illegitimate child first emerged in 1999 in an unauthorised biography about his wife. The allegation prompted a royal scandal and enduring media gossip in Belgium.

Ms Boël first alleged on the record that King Albert was her biological father during a 2005 interview.

Her mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, has claimed the two had an affair between 1966 and 1984 when he was still Prince Albert of Liège.

However, following his older brother's death in 1993 at 62, he unexpectedly came to the throne.

He held the position until July 2013, when he announced his abdication - citing ill health - and was replaced by his son, Philippe. He is said to receive an annual income of about €1m.

Shortly after his abdication, Ms Boël opened court proceedings.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Princess Paola of Belgium (later Queen Paola) and Prince Albert of Belgium with their children in 1969

Last year, he refused to fulfil a 2018 court order to undergo DNA testing and he launched an appeal.

A court had initially set a three-month limit for him to provide a saliva sample for testing - saying that without it, Ms Boël would be assumed to be his daughter and could be eligible for an inheritance.

Belgium has a constitutional monarchy in which the king plays a largely ceremonial role.

Who is King Albert II?

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Media captionKing Albert was sworn in as the sixth king of the Belgians on 9 August 1993
  • Born in 1934 as second in line to the throne
  • Married Italian Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria in 1959
  • The couple have two sons and a daughter
  • Became king in August 1993 following the death of his older brother, King Baudouin
  • With his constitutional role, stepped in during country's 2010-2011 political stalemate
  • Served as monarch for two decades until his 2013 abdication

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