Belgian Pearls, the blog of interior decorator Greet Lefèvre, is displaying some of the work of Belgian papier maché artist Delphine Boël. Delphine herself is a very pretty lady, but, despite the many rave reviews, I regret to say that I find her work hideously garish. I am sure that part of the reason for all the attention she receives is not her artistic merits but the sensation surrounding her claim to be the illegitimate daughter of Belgium's reigning king, Albert II.
I find it extremely unfortunate that Delphine not only made these public claims, but poured fuel on the flames of scandal by bitterly denouncing the King, asserting that he simply wanted to wash his hands of her and bury the embarrassing issue. If she really is his daughter, I can understand her desire for recognition, and feelings of rejection, but, at the risk of sounding harsh, there are more important things than hurt feelings. I believe that the dignity and prestige of the monarchy ought to take precedence. Even when royals have acted less than admirably, their position is deserving of respect. Not that they should be immune to criticism, but lurid scandal-mongering and vitriolic public attacks are out of place. This is all the more so in a place like Belgium, where the monarchy is so vital to the country's fragile national unity.
As for Delphine's paternity allegation in itself, I cannot say whether it is true or false. There would be nothing impossible or improbable about Albert II having a child out of wedlock. Although they were thankfully reconciled at the beginning of the 1980's, it is certainly true that the royal couple's marriage has known painful times. The King himself admitted it in his Christmas Speech, in 1999. Whether Delphine is his daughter, however, is another matter altogether, and I would like to note that her claim has never been formally verified. Therefore, the Belgian press' continued references to her as the "King's love child," as if it were a confirmed fact, are out of place. I also find it unnecessary that many chose to make such a cause celebre out of Delphine's case in particular. Leopold I, Leopold II, and Prince Charles of Belgium all had natural children, and it is hardly an extraordinary phenomenon among royalty in general.
(Image: Delphine Boël at a book-signing, by Luc van Braekel. Some rights reserved.)