BRUSSELS: The long-running royal scandal that has riveted Belgium and damaged those involved has achieved a new milestone after former King Albert II reunited with the daughter he fathered out of wedlock more than half a century ago and stubbornly refused to recognise.

Capping a momentous few weeks, the ex-king and his wife Queen Paola received the former Delphine Boel at their residence, the 18th Century Belvedere Castle outside Brussels. Boel, a 52-year-old artist, last month won recognition as Her Royal Highness Princess Delphine following a bitter two-decade paternity fight.

After the tumult, the suffering and the hurt, it is time for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation,” the three said in a joint statement issued by the Royal Palace on Tuesday, two days after the meeting.

Together, we decided to take this new path. It will require patience and effort, but we are determined,” they said.

In September a Belgian court ruled in Princess Delphines favour and officially recognised her as the daughter of King Albert II, something the aging monarch had fought tooth and nail to avoid ever since paternity rumours became public in 1998.

Princess Delphine is an artist known for her quirky, sometimes outrageous, statues that could even have references to her royal father. Albert II, 86, was king until 2013.

The gathering on Sunday was soon followed by a reportedly warm meeting with her half-brother, the reigning King Phillipe, at the royal palace.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2020