Delphine of Belgium says public see her like 'Princess Diana'

Delphine of Belgium says public see her like 'Princess Diana'


Love child of Belgium’s King Albert II Princess Delphine said public turned on her during court battle to be recognised as the royal’s daughter but now ‘compare her to Princess Diana’

  • Princess Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg, 54 spoke to Tatler for her first UK interview 
  • Said the Belgian public now see her as a ‘princess of hearts’ due to charity work
  • Artist added ‘you can’t have a child and just kick it’, after dad rejected her

The once secret, illegitimate daughter of former King Albert II of Belgium has drawn comparisons between herself and Princess Diana calling herself a ‘Princess of hearts’.

She also said of her father and former King ‘you can’t have a child and just kick it’ in an interview with Tatler.

Princess Delphine, 53, formerly known as Delphine Boël, was born during an 18-year affair between the former monarch, 86, and Belgian aristocrat Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, 79, that began in the 1960s when he was Crown Prince. 

Albert kept in close contact with the baroness and Delphine, who was born in 1968.  

But when she turned 16 in 1984, the soon-to-be king – who ascended to the throne in 1993 – distanced himself from the pair to preserve his marriage. 

Revealing the rejection still hurts, she said: ‘You don’t just have a child and kick it.’

However, she said that she doesn’t blame her father, who she is now reconciled with, saying that royal life is ‘isolating’ and that he was badly advised.  

The illegitimate daughter of King Albert II of Belgium has likened  herself to Princess Diana in an interview with Tatler 

Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg Gotha, meeting her biological father King Albert II, centre, and Queen Paola, left, during an informal meeting in Brussels in October 2020 

The Belgian public at the time, also questioned her legitimacy, but she said that the tide of public opinion has turned afetr winning her seven-year court battle to prove she was the monarch’s child. 

‘The public now compare me to Princess Diana, because I am a princess of hearts and am generous with charity work,’ she said.

The princess, famously sports a cropped blonde haircut that she hasn’t changed since her youth, not unlike Princess Diana’s signature short style. 

After a court officially acknowledged her as the love child of Belgium’s former king in October 2020, Delphine said her battle to be recognised as a royal was not about money or status but ‘principles’.   

Albert II (pictured left with Queen Paola of Belgium) had fought tooth and nail to avoid accepting Delphine was his daughter ever since paternity rumours became public in 1998

Left: Albert II before he was made king. Right: Albert pictured with Queen Paola, his son Phillipe, born in 1960, and daughter Princess Astrid, born in 1962

Albert married Queen Paola in 1959 and always played down rumours that he was Delphine’s father, and once explosively told her over the phone ‘you are not my daughter!’

Now at 54, Delphine finally has the right to bear the royal name de Saxe-Cobourg, and is formally recognised as part of the royal family, as are her two children Princess Joséphine of Belgium,19 and Prince Oscar of Belgium,14 who she shares with partner James O’Hare.

Delphine has attended royal engagements and says her relationship with her father has healed after years of bitterness. 

In 2013, she told the VTM Channel on a documentary ‘Because, you know, when you go to court, you pretty much say ‘I hate you, I never want to see you again.’

‘What I didn’t realize is how important it was for me to see him again. And so now it’s a time of forgiveness, of working things out. It’s a time of healing.’

Her comments come after she appeared in a documentary about her battle in which she said he reduced her to tears when he accused the artist of pursuing her paternity claim because she ‘wanted attention’=

Princess Delphine said her now-recognised father was ‘nasty’ as she spoke of their first encounter as part of a new television documentary.

During their first meeting in 2013, she claimed to the VTM channel that he ‘sneered’ at her: ‘Ah, because it’s not going so well as an artist you need some attention.’

She said on the show ‘I thought how rude is this?’  

‘After the first conversation with Albert and his lawyers, I walked out of the office completely crushed and crying.

‘They said I was “putting a gun to the king’s head” by going to court.’

Princess Delphine said: ‘The first time I visited him and his lawyers, he was very nasty and made me cry.’  

Delphine said her battle to be recognised as a royal was not about money or status.

She explained that her mother’s husband, wealthy industrialist and aristocrat Jacques Boel, is ‘much richer than the royal family’.

Delphine’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps (left), now 80, had begun an affair with Albert in 1966, when he was the crown prince (Pictured: Baron Dieter von Malsen Ponickau with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps at Osterberg castle, Germany, 1998)

Delphine also revealed she will not be using the ‘Her Royal Highness’ prefix, adding: ‘I just wanted to be the same as my brother and my sister.’

She told Belgian radio show Matin Premiere: ‘I feel like I have a right to exist. Not to exist in the royal family but as me.

‘My decision to call for help through the law, I feel today that it was the right thing to do… The judicial system said that I was right and that I had the right to exist.’

She met her brother, King Philippe of Belgium who is one of 20 Belgian royals she is related to – in 2020, where they posted a socially distanced picture to Facebook, describing it as a ‘warm meeting.’ 

For now, the Princess is focusing on her art projects and is launching an exhibition in September aptly named ‘What is to come is better than what was before’. 

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