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Belgian King meets with his once-secret half-sister for the first time, after years of legal wrangling

Posted October 16, 2020 6:41 a.m. EDT

— Belgium's King Philippe finally met with his once-secret half-sister, Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg, after years of royal denials surrounding the princess' paternity.

The pair met for the first time October 9 at the Castle of Laeken, the royal family's official residence, in a "warm encounter," the Belgian Monarchy said in a statement.

Saxe-Cobourg, the daughter of former Belgian King Albert II, won the right to call herself a princess earlier this month, following a ruling by the Brussels Court of Appeal, which said she was entitled to the same rights and royal titles as her father's other three children.

Known until recently as Delphine Boël, Saxe-Cobourg launched a lawsuit in 2013 to have the former King recognized as her father. She claimed the King had an affair with her mother, Sibylle de Selys Longchamps, resulting in her birth in 1968.

The former King contested the claims for seven years and even failed to submit to a DNA paternity test when ordered to do so by the Brussels Court of Appeal in October 2018.

Albert II finally took a paternity test after a court ruled last May that he would face a daily fine of €5,000 ($5,600) until he took the test. In January, he acknowledged he was Boël's biological father.

"This long and rich discussion gave us the opportunity to learn to know each other. We talked about our respective lives and areas of shared interest," King Philippe and Princess Delphine said in a statement on Thursday. "This bond will further develop within the family setting," they added.

Albert II married Paola Ruffo di Calabria, later Queen Paola of Belgium, in 1959 and became king in 1993. In 2013, at the age of 79, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son Philippe, citing concerns over his age and health.

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