Belgium’s new princess sees no need to be treated as royalty

BRUSSELS (AP) — Delphine Boel has been acknowledged as Belgian Princess Delphine of Saxe-Coburg, after a two-decade royal paternity scandal. Still, she said on Monday she’d still rather be considered an artist than a royal.

Last week, a Belgian court ruled in her favor and officially recognized her as the daughter of former King Albert II, something the aging monarch had fought tooth and nail to avoid ever since the paternity allegations became public.

Princess Delphine said going to court was all about getting family recognition and the love of a father who had always coldshouldered her. “For me to go to court, especially for that, to be recognized by my own blood, my own father, felt so unnatural,” she told reporters on Monday.

“It is a sort of unnatural life I was living that was most painful,” the 52-year-old said during an emotional press conference.

The former king, whose son Philippe is the reigning monarch, could still make an ultimate legal appeal at the Court of Cassation, but Princess Delphine said the case was unlikely to go that far. “I think it is finished now.”

King Albert decided in January to no longer fight a claim that he is Boel’s father, after he finally agreed to have a DNA test and received the results. Rumors 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.

Princess Delphine said the turning point in her relationship with Albert II came when he denied she was his daughter two decades ago. She said she had “been a little soldier, completely protecting him and my mother since the age of 17 and not saying anything because I loved him and we had a good relationship.” When he turned his back on her, “it really felt like having a knife in the back.”

Boel bears a striking resemblance to certain members of the royal family, including Albert II. During her adult life she became a sculptor and her works are known for their colorful, quirky, and sometimes provocative style.

She said her art will continue to define her. “I am still going to be Delphine. I am not going to be hanging out in the streets saying, please call me princess,” she said, adding that charity work could be an exception.

She doesn’t know whether the legal victory will turn into warm family bonds anytime soon.

“If you ask me whether I am expecting anything from the Royal family, as I said, I am not expecting anything. I am just going to carry on with my work,” she said. “And however, if suddenly they show a sign of life, I would never (turn) my back to them. That’s for sure.”

Her two children, Josephine and Oscar, will also be allowed to carry royal titles.

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