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King Albert II and Queen Paola

Just In Time For Father’s Day, King Albert of Belgium Agrees To Paternity DNA Test

The concession, as reported by the SF Chronicle, is the latest twist in an intriguing decades-old tale.

King Albert II had this scandal hanging over his head since his ascension to the throne in 1993. Although it was always the subject of rumor mills, it wasn’t until his abdication in 2013 that things came to a head.

Anatomy of a royal scandal

Royal scandal

King Albert wasn’t always destined for the throne. As King Leopold III’s second son and youngest child, he was content with being a Prince.

Their father’s abdication in 1951 saw his brother Baudouin ascend the throne, making Albert the Crown Prince. Free of official royal duties, he spent his time hobnobbing with the rich and famous.

Although married to future queen Paola di Calabria since 1959, he allegedly had a long extramarital affair in the 1960s. The result was a daughter with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps in 1968.

As Prince, he’s said to have acknowledged the girl, Delphine Boel, as his offspring and even provided for her.

Things changed in 1993 when King Baudouin unexpectedly died of heart failure. Because the King and Queen Fabiola never had any children, the throne passed on to Albert.

When he became king, he cut off all ties to his illegitimate daughter. The decision was no doubt influenced by the royal palace in recognition of his new public role.

In contrast with his carefree days as a prince, he would come under heavier public scrutiny as a king. It was probably feared that an open relationship with Boel would taint his image.

Despite the royal palace’s best efforts to contain the situation, it became a public scandal in 1999.

An unauthorized biography of Queen Paola detailed the King’s extramarital affair and revealed he had an illegitimate daughter.

What does Delphine Boel hope to gain?

Delphine Boel

If officially recognized as King Albert’s daughter, Boel potentially stands to inherit some of his estates.

His net worth is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. She has repeatedly said she’s not particularly interested in money, jewelry or castles.

She claims she only wants an official acknowledgment from the former king that he’s her father.

Boel herself doesn’t exactly come from a poor background.

Her legal father is Jacques Boel, a member of one of Belgium’s richest industrialist families.

Even without King Albert’s acknowledgment of her paternity, she still has an aristocratic background. A separate paternity test already ruled out Jacques Boel as her biological father.

If another one proves she is King Albert’s biological daughter, she could theoretically become 16th in line to the throne.

She’d also hypothetically be known as Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which is Albert’s aristocratic name. Such a decision would be subject to approval by the Belgian government.

Her quest for recognition was difficult during Albert’s reign as king because he was immune from prosecution.

Other than making claims, she couldn’t file a lawsuit to compel the king to do a DNA test.

The opportunity came in 2013 after he abdicated in favor of his son Philippe. Since the constitution no longer shielded him, Boel filed a lawsuit

King Albert’s hesitation to take a paternity test

king agrees paternity test

Could the former king’s stubborn refusal to agree to a paternity test be interpreted as a sign of guilt?

After all, if he’s sure he’s not Boel’s father, all he has to do is let science prove it. Modern DNA tests could easily stop all the rumormongering.

His attorneys have revealed that the court process and surrounding public scrutiny are affecting his health. So why not agree to the test and have peace of mind?

Although Belgian law doesn’t force defendants to submit to DNA tests, refusal is recognized as evidence of paternity.

In November 2018, a court instructed him to take a DNA test, an order he refused to obey for six months.

He only agreed after a judge threatened to fine him 5,000 euros every day he failed to take the test.

In the meantime, his lawyers have lodged an appeal challenging the order. They’re also fighting to keep the test results secret. Such actions only show the former king has something to hide.

Belgian public opinion

Belgian scandal

When the scandal became public in 1999, Belgians were mostly critical of how the King had handled the situation.

Their support for Delphine Boel played a role in encouraging her to launch a legal process against Albert. At the time, the king addressed the nation and touched on the scandal.

Although he admitted that their marriage had had problems in the ’60s, he never admitted to being Boel’s father.

In 2013, 80% of Belgians polled on the matter expressed support for Boel’s cause, marking a sharp contrast with the monarchy’s position.

Given the public’s support and willingness to accept Boel, his stubborn refusal to take a DNA test is somewhat strange.

For one, Belgians are aware of his playboy lifestyle during his years as a prince. They also know he wasn’t always destined to be king. In that regard, he wasn’t expected to maintain the same clean image as his elder brother.

It, therefore, wouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he had a child from an extramarital affair.

Prince Albert also had an established relationship with Delphine Boel during her childhood. His decision to cut off all communication after ascending the throne sounds rather cruel.

A logical explanation is that he did it under pressure to prevent her from being eligible for a royal inheritance.

But we won’t know for sure until the DNA test results are made public.

About the Author Charles McKnight

I'm just another amateur genealogist investigating my American-Scots-Irish lineage. I built MyFamilyDNATest.com after buying all of the leading DNA tests to discover everything I could about my family history. Hopefully, this site will save you time and demystify the emerging science of DNA-based genealogy, for your family project.

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