Bioethics News

Bioethics and royalty

A Belgian court has granted Delphine Boel, a 46-year-old artist currently living in the UK, the right to seek legal recognition of her alleged royal parentage, in a landmark decision that has brought Belgium’s paternity legislation into question.

Boel claims that she is the biological daughter of former Belgian King Albert II, who is said to have had an affair with Boel’s mother, Ms. Sibylle de Selys Longchamps, in the late 1970s.

Boel petitioned a top court in Brussels in 2013 to revoke the official paternity of her legal father, Jacques Boel, a billionaire who disinherited her. Technically she is too old to do this, yet after the case was referred to Belgium’s constitutional court the existing legislation was overruled. The court ruled as unconstitutional the relevant legal stipulations. Under existing law a person needs to be younger than 22 (or within a year of becoming aware of their true paternity) if they are to petition for the revocation of legal paternity.

Boel will now be able to contest her existing paternity record and pursue her claim against the ex-monarch.

In an interview with the Belgian television station RTL-TVI, Boel said that she was immensely pleased with the outcome of the case:

“I’m very happy because this will help other children in a similar situation…and that to me is an enormous pleasure”.

In their decision the court’s judges said that the right to know one’s true parentage is more important than existing family ties. 

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.