Former Belgian king undergoes paternity test

Speculation grows that long-standing rumours may have precipitated early abdication

King Albert II
King Albert II prior to his abdication in 2013
(Image credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The former king of Belgium has taken a paternity test in the hope of finally putting to bed a scandal that has dogged the royal family.

Albert II, who abdicated from the Belgian throne six years ago because of ill health, agreed to a DNA test demanded by a woman who claims to be his daughter in what could be “a decisive breakthrough in the case that has followed the 84-year-old royal for decades”, says Sky News.

Delphine Boel, now 51, has been trying to prove Albert is her biological father. Rumours about a relationship between the monarch and Boel’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, the aristocratic wife of an industrialist, had circulated for decades but the news the king may have had a child with her only emerged when a biography of Albert’s wife, Queen Paola, was published in 1999.

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The Guardian says Boel, “who has a striking resemblance to some members of the royal family”, brought the paternity case out of anger at being cold-shouldered by the royal family.

However, the fact she opened court proceedings shortly after the king abdicated has “provoked speculation the scandal had influenced the move”, says the BBC.

The former king “has never publicly denied being her father” but had refused to provide DNA, says the Guardian, until now.

In October 2018, the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in her favour and ordered Albert to submit a DNA sample. Earlier this month, the court ruled that he face a daily fine of €5,000 (£4,370) if he refused.

Deutsche Welle said the sovereign finally “bowed to pressure” and provided a saliva sample for a comparative analysis with the DNA of Boel and her mother.

The result will be kept confidential until a new judicial decision is made, “which could take up to a year”, says DW.

“If Albert is proven to be her father, Boel would be entitled to go by the name of Delphine Van Belgie, and, by royal decree, might also take the title of princess,” CNN reports.

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