Artist and sculptor Delphine Boel is on the cusp of officially becoming a Belgian princess after a Brussels court ruled in her favour Thursday in a decades-old royal paternity scandal pitting her against former King Albert II.
Her lawyer, Alain de Jonghe, confirmed in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the court gave his client full satisfaction, recognizing her as the former monarch's daughter. A statement from her team of lawyers said she would be able to be called princess "Delphine of Saxe Coburg," and will be set on the same footing as her royal brothers and sisters.
The breakthrough ruling came a month earlier than expected, but not a moment too soon for the 52-year-old Boel.
"The legal victory will never replace the love of a father but it provides a feeling of justice," her lawyers said in the statement issued after the ruling.
The former king, whose son Philippe is the reigning monarch, could still make an ultimate legal appeal at the Court of Cassation. A phone call and email to the royal palace late Thursday were not immediately answered.
Such a ruling had been in the offing since King Albert decided in January to no longer fight a claim that he is the father of Boel, after he finally agreed to have a DNA test and received the results. His lawyers had said that "scientific conclusions indicate that he is the biological father of Mrs. Delphine Boel."
Rumours about Albert and Boel’s mother, the aristocratic wife of a well-heeled industrialist, had been around for years. But the news that the king might have had a child with her broke into the open when a biography of Albert’s wife, Queen Paola, was published in 1999.
In his Christmas message to the nation that year, King Albert alluded to a past infidelity and said he and Queen Paola lived through a "crisis" in the late 1960s that almost wrecked their marriage, but that "a long while ago" they overcame their marital problems.
Six years ago, Boel, who bears a striking resemblance to certain members of the royal family, opened court proceedings to prove that Albert is her father.
The lawyers said Thursday that the ruling should provide encouragement "to numerous children that had to go through the same ordeal."
Boel has always said that she brought the paternity case because she was angry at having been cold-shouldered by the royal family.