Delphine and her daughter at a book signing in 2008
22 February 1968|
Uccle, Brussels, Belgium
Delphine Michèle Anne Marie Ghislaine, Jonkvrouw Boël (born 22 February 1968) is a Belgian artist who makes multi-media artworks. She is alleged to be the illegitimate daughter of King Albert II. She belongs to the Belgian titled nobility and is legally Jonkvrouw Boël.
Delphine is the daughter of Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps (born 1941), whose husband was Jonkheer Jacques Boël (born 1929), scion of a noble family of industrialists. They divorced in 1978 and her mother married again in 1982 with the Honorable Michael-Anthony Rathmore Cayzer (of the Barons Rotherwick of Tylney) (1929–1990). Mother and daughter moved to London and to the large estate of the new husband, in Rotherwick. Jacques Boël remarried in 2001 with the divorcee Diane de Woot de Trixhe de Jannée (born 1943).
On 19 October 1999, an 18-year-old Flemish schoolboy, Mario Danneels, published his unauthorised biography of Queen Paola, Paola, van 'la dolce vita' tot koningin (Paola, from 'la dolce vita' to Queen). The book contained a statement referring to the existence of a daughter born out of wedlock to King Albert. The Belgian press seized upon this statement and made investigations into the identity of this daughter, tracing Delphine. At first, both Delphine and her mother refused to comment on the matter, and the Palace dismissed Danneels' book as gossip and rumours.
The main element considered by the Belgian press as acknowledgment that Delphine is the King's daughter is a short extract from the King's 1999 Christmas speech:
This Christmas feast is also the occasion for each of us to think to one's own family, to one's happy periods but also to one's difficult moments. The Queen and I have remembered very happy periods but also the crisis that our couple have experienced more than 30 years ago. Together we could, very longtime ago already, surpass those difficulties and find back a deep understanding and love. This period has been recalled to us short ago. We don't wish to dwell ("nous appesantir" in French) on that subject which belongs to our private lives. But, if certain people who meet today similar problems could get some reasons to hope from our lived experience, we would be so happy.
The press interpret this to refer to the King's affair with Sybille de Sélys Longchamps.
Delphine gave an interview on 15 May 2005, to the France 3 presenter Marc-Olivier Fogiel in the broadcast "On ne peut pas plaire à tout le monde" (You Can't Please Everyone) in which she said that she is indeed the daughter of the King. She said she made a telephone call to King Albert II in order to receive help for her mother who was being harassed by journalists. According to her statement, the King replied "Leave me alone with that story. You are not my daughter." which she said was hurtful. She said she felt the absence of contact from him, especially since she is a mother herself. In the same interview, she alleged that when she and her mother moved to England when she was 9, the then Prince Albert wished to divorce Princess Paola and join them. Her mother apparently opposed this because of the political consequences for Prince Albert. Delphine added that her "parents" kept in touch by telephone for some years, but that this stopped some time before she was 16 (in 1984). She said her mother told her "the truth" about her parentage when she turned 18, in 1986.
In June 2013, Delphine summoned the King and two of his children, the Duke of Brabant and the Archduchess of Austria-Este, to appear in court. She hoped to use DNA tests to prove that she is the King's daughter. As the King enjoyed complete immunity under the law, Delphine decided to summon the Duke and Archduchess as well. After the King abdicated on 21 July 2013 and no longer enjoyed immunity, Delphine relaunched proceedings against him. In March 2017, the Court ruled that her claim was unfounded, and her lawyers said she would take the claim to appeal.
- van de Pas, Leo Joséphine's entry in Genealogics
- "van de Pas, Leo Oscar's entry in Genealogics". Genealogics.org. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Lungescu, Oana 27 October 1999 Belgium's royal sex scandal BBC, retrieved 27 April 2010". BBC News. 1999-10-27. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Stroobants, Jean-Pierre (17 June 2013). "En Belgique, la fille adultérine d'Albert II exige une reconnaissance officielle". Le Monde. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Bacchi, Umberto (18 June 2013). "Belgium: King Albert's 'Disowned Natural Daughter' Delphine Boel Seeks Recognition in Court". International Business Times. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Het Niewsblad 28 March 2017 http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20170328_02804662 Retrieved 3 August 2017 (in Dutch)
- Fogiel's interview (in French) reported on 19 May 2005 by Michel Bouffioux.
- Interview with Sybille de Selys Longchamps (in French) by Michel Bouffioux, June 2005.