Thursday, October 27, 2016
King Albert II summoned to court
King Albert II of the Belgians has received a summons to appear in a Brussels civil court. The summons is in connection with Delphine Boel's determination to be recognized as Albert's daughter.
According to Belgian legal experts, Albert, who abdicated in 2013 in favor of his elder son, Philippe, is no longer entitled to legal immunity. "Even though we today still call King Albert a king, he isn't one. King Philippe is Belgium's only king as defined under the Belgian constitution says Prof Paul van Orshoven, a Belgian legal expert. "Following his abdication the king was able to retain his title, but this has no legal ramifications."
Albert no longer "enjoys any of the prerogatives of the king as head of state. He does not enjoy any immunity or privilege and cannot count on preferential treatment, if the court insists that he must appear, then he must do so."
According to the professor, Albert has no "single legal argument" to refuse to appear. But as this is a civil and not a criminal court, the king cannot be forced to attend. But "if he doesn't attend the court, the court cannot sanction him. However, the court is able to draw it conclusions from his failure to appear."
Last year, King Albert changed the "nature' of his marriage contract with his wife, Queen Paola. All of their properties are now jointly owned, which allows for Albert to "identify which possessions belong to the queen." This decision could prevent Delphine Boel from inheriting a portion of Albert's estate.
In September 2014, a DNA test proved that Delphine was not the child of her legal father, Jacques Boel. Shortly afterward, his lawyer stated that Boel "no longer opposed Delphine Boel's challenge to his paternity."
In his 1999 Christmas speech, King Albert briefly touched on Boel's claims, which were first published in a book published earlier that year that her mothe, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, that an affair with Albert, the Prince of Liege, in the 1960s.
He stated in the speech that his marriage had gone through a "crisis" 30 years ear;ier, without further elaborating.
Delphine Michele Anne Marie Ghislaine Boel was born on February 22, 1968 at Uccle.
Marco Danneels, then only 18-years-old and still at school, published an unauthorized biography on Queen Paola. Danneels included a reference to Albert being the father of a daughter born out of wedlock. It didn't take long for the Belgian press to identify Delphine Boel as the alleged child.
At the time, Delphine Boel and her mother refused to comment on Danneels' claim, and the palace dismissed the book as pure gossip.
Albert alluded to the "gossip" in his annual 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 have been recalled to us short ago. We don't wish to dwell 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 Belgian press interpreted this statement as an acknowledgement of his affair with Sybille de Sélys Longchamps.
It was not until 2005 that Delphine Boel was interviewed on French TV, stating that she was indeed Albert's daughter. She told the interviewer that she had telephoned the king, asking for his help, as her mother was being harassed by the press. The king told her "Leave me alone with that story. You are not my daughter."
Delphine told a reporter that she learned about her true father when she was eighteen years old.
She has tried on several occasions to bring Albert into court, but until his abdication, the king had immunity from such appearances. In 2013, she also summoned, Albert's two eldest children, Philippe, then the Duke of Brabant, and Princess Astrid, to court to provide DNA. She was not successful.
That same year, Delphine's mother, Sybille, spoke to the press about her 18-year affair with Albert. She stated that her daughter had suffered "discrimination" over her relationship the then Prince of Liege.
"Delphine is responsible for nothing . It was a story between two adults, if anybody is responsible it is him and me, not her. I therefore support my daughter in her move, after trying since 2001, to reach a behind-the-scenes arrangement."
"I want to "re-establish the truth." Sybille also stated that Albert wanted to divorce his wife Paola, but it was she who said that would not be a good idea, and persuaded Albert to not go through with it. At the time, Albert was heir to the throne, as his older brother, King Baudouin, and his wife, Queen Fabiola, were childless. Sybille said that Baudouin and the government would have allowed te divorce but the conditions for Albert would have been "very very harsh."
She ended the relationship, and moved to England with her young daughter. Delphine works as a multi-media artists. She lives with her Irish-American partner, James O'Hare. They have two children, Josephine, 13, and Oscar, who is nine years old.
An acknowledgement of paternity will not make Delphine a princess or give her succession right to the throne. It will give her peace of mind to know the truth, if Albert answers the summons -- and agrees to a DNA test, about her parentage.
One can only assume that Albert's wife and children know the truth. Why else would Albert have protected his assets so that Delphine cannot make a claim. He is not the first member of the Belgian royal house to have fathered a child out of wedlock. His uncle, Prince Charles, was the father of a illegitimate daughter, Isabelle Wybo, and her position was an open secret in Belgium. Charles never married. Albert and Paola certainly had marital struggles in the 1960s - as both were unfaithful.
Although Delphine would like a relationship with the Albert, the best she may get is a forced acknowledgement. She has two small children who may never know their grandfather or their cousins.