An artist who has successfully fought a seven-year legal battle to prove he is the daughter of former King Albert II of Belgium has won the right to be recognized as a princess.
An appeals court in Brussels has ruled that 52-year-old Dolphin Boel was entitled to her father’s last name after a fierce battle for recognition.
Boel will be called the Dolphin of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Princess of Belgium, her lawyer told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. Her two children, Josephine and Oscar, will also be recognized as Prince and Princess of Belgium.
In a statement, Boel̵
They added: “She is delighted with this court decision, which ends a long process that is particularly painful for her and her family. Legitimate victory will never replace a father’s love, but it offers a sense of justice, further enhanced by the fact that many children who have gone through the same trials will find the strength to face them. “
Albert, 86, who abdicated in 2013 in part because of court battles over Boel’s paternity claims, was forced to admit she was his daughter in January after a court ordered a DNA test. Boel is the result of an extramarital affair between Albert and Baroness Sybil de Celis Lonschamp.
Boel spent time with Albert as a child, calling him “Papillon”, but she sought recognition in vain for more than 20 years.
She began a legal battle to prove paternity in June 2013 after the eldest of her two children, Joséphine, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and she missed her biological father.
Boel’s lawsuit received a vital boost last fall when the appeals court ruled that Jacques Boel, with whom she grew up, was not her biological father and commissioned an expert to perform a test to compare her DNA with Albert’s.
The king agreed to provide a saliva sample – proving his paternity – after courts threatened to charge him € 5,000 (£ 4,370) for each day he refused.
On the day Albert ascended the throne seven years ago, citing ill health, Boel’s mother, Baroness Sybil de Celis Launchamp, gave a television interview in which she spoke publicly for the first time about her relationship with the king.
“I thought I couldn’t have children because I had an infection,” she said of the relationship, which allegedly lasted from 1966 to 1984. “We hadn’t taken any precautions.”
She continued: “It was a beautiful period. Dolphin was a loving child. Albert was not his father’s figure, but he was very sweet to her. “