Albert II, the 85-year-old former King of Belgium, has admitted that he is the biological father of Delphine Boel, a 51-year-old artist, after years of speculation.
The former monarch confirmed he was Ms Boel’s father following publication of the results of a DNA test he took in December.
The former king, who abdicated in 2013, said in a statement that he wanted to “put an end to this painful procedure with honour and dignity”.
Ms Boel first publicly claimed that the former king was her father in 2013. When he abdicated that year, passing the throne to his son, the current king, Philippe, he lost legal immunity and Ms Boel relaunched proceedings against him to prove he was her father.
Her mother is Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, a Belgian aristocrat married to a wealthy industrialist. Ms Boel and her mother moved to England when she was nine.
Ms Boël went to boarding schools in England and Switzerland, and studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Design in London, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts.
Albert made his first public comment that was later taken as confirmation that he was Ms Boel’s father in a Christmas speech to the nation in 1999.
He said: “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 has experienced more than 30 years ago.
“Together we could, (a) very long time ago already, surpass those difficulties and find back a deep understanding and love,” he said.
“We don't wish to dwell on that subject which belongs to our private lives,” he said on Belgian television.
The former monarch said in a statement accepting the DNA test results that the process had not respected “the private lives” of those involved.
He said there were “legal arguments” why being the biological father did not mean he was the “legal father”.
Now that Albert has officially admitted that Ms Boel is his daughter, she is legally entitled to call herself a royal princess and to a share of his estate when he dies. Belgium’s Supreme Court said in December that Albert should undergo DNA tests to establish whether he was Ms Boel’s biological father.
The former monarch had appealed against previous court decisions ordering him to undergo the paternity test.