Thursday, 24 February 2011
Delphine Michèle Anne Marie Boël is a Belgian artist who specializes in papier maché sculpture. She is alleged to be the illegitimate daughter of Albert II of Belgium. Sometimes in the media Delphine is incorrectly titled as a Baroness, because of her mother's title, but she does not belong to the nobility, as she took the name of her stepfather, to whom her mother was married at the time, and not her mother's title.
Born on February 22, 1968, she is the daughter of Sybille, Baroness de Selys Longchamps, whose husband was Jacques Boël, scion of a family of industrialists. Delphine and her Irish-American partner, James O'Hare, have a daughter, Joséphine (born October 17, 2003), and a son, Oscar (born April 28, 2008).
On October 19, 1999, a Flemish biographer, Mario Danneels (Dutch), 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 Boël. 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 crossed 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 ("nous apesantir" 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 May 15, 2005, to the France 3 presenter Marc-Olivier Fogiel (French) in the broadcast "On ne peut pas plaire à tout le monde" in which she claimed that she was 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 anymore." 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 Crown 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 (1984). She said her mother told her "the truth" about her parentage when she turned 18, in 1986.
Although King Albert does not acknowledge that he is her father, Delphine's paternity link with the King is often considered as fact by the press and by the Belgian people. She is sometimes compared with Mazarine Pingeot, the illegitimate daughter of former French President François Mitterrand, and nicknamed "the Mazarine of Belgium". She is in touch with her half-brother, Prince Laurent of Belgium, who unofficially acknowledges her as his sister.
There has been no formal proof of Delphine Boël's claim, as a paternity test has not been carried out.
The sculptures by Delphine Boël referred quite openly to royal conditions: they often worked with crowns, thrones and the colors of the Belgian flag (like on the penis of a crowned frog). Her works have increased in value since they are sensitive because of the paternity issue has become famous. She has exhibited work including in Ixelles (2001), Koksijde (2004) and Sint-Martens-Latem (2008). In 2003 she participated in the Venice Biennale. Yet sometimes the victim of censorship by its origin, although the royal palace denied any initiative in this