King Albert II of Belgium Welcomes a New Princess Into the Royal Fold

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In 2005, a Belgian woman first said on the record that her father was the country’s then-monarch, King Albert II. After seven years of legal battles, Albert admitted paternity in January, and on October 1, the woman won the right to call herself Princess Delphine and use Albert’s surname, Saxe-Cobourg. In a sign that the acrimony is now subsiding, Delphine and Albert got together in person for the first time in decades.

In a photo posted to the royal family’s website, Albert and his wife, Queen Paola, are shown welcoming Delphine to their home in Laeken, outside of Brussels. “On Sunday, 25 October, a new chapter, rich in emotion, peace of mind, understanding and hope was begun,” a statement read. “During our meeting in Castle Belvédère, each of us, in serenity and empathy, managed to express their feelings and experiences.” It was signed by Delphine, Albert, and Paola.

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Albert and Paola reportedly had marital issues in the 1970s, and rumors that Albert had fathered a child outside of wedlock first emerged in 1999, when a biography of Paola made waves in the European press. In the years that followed, both Delphine and her mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, spoke to the press about the affair. Earlier this year, Delphine said that she knew her father when she was younger but that he had since refused to speak with her for decades. When Albert abdicated the throne in 2013, Delphine launched a legal battle to prove paternity. Albert declined to provide DNA until May 2019 when a court fined him €5,000 a day until he complied.

As a part of the legal ruling earlier this month, Delphine also won the right to one-eighth of Albert’s fortune as an inheritance. On October 9, she met her brother, the current monarch King Philippe, for the first time at the Castle of Laeken. “It was a warm meeting,” the siblings said in a statement afterward. “This extensive and special conversation gave us the opportunity to get to know each other. We have spoken about our own lives and our common interests.”

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