Delphine, Belgium's royal love child

Delphine Boël
When the late French president François Mitterrand was asked about his illegitimate daughter Mazarine in an interview, his response was: "Et alors?", "So what?". Albert II, the incumbent King of the Belgians, never gives interviews. When the story about Delphine Boël, the illegitimate child he had with baroness Sybille de Sélys Longchamps, broke loose in 1999, the Royal Court remained silent. In his 1999 christmas speech, the King only vaguely made allusions to his former marital problems, and said "these matters belong to our private lives".

Sunday, Delphine was presented on French state television FR3 as "La Fille Cachée", the hidden daughter. Delphine, who is an artist and a sculptor (using papier maché like Nike de Saint Phalle), lived in London for many years, but now she has a daughter (called Joséphine) and she has moved to Brussels. After the story of her royal roots was in the open, the King refused to see her and her mother, and when she called him by telephone, he said that he was not her father. Since then, she is mad at the king, and some of her artwork is mockingly referring to the combination of masculinity, royalty and Belgium. Example: a penis, painted in the Belgian national colors black, yellow and red. In the tv show, which was called "On ne peut pas plaire à tout le monde", i.e. "One cannot please everyone", she revealed that in the sixties, Albert was to divorce his wife Paola. The Belgian government had already agreed and the paperwork was ready, but Albert's brother King Baudouin, a very religious man, refused. Baudouin threatened to take away Albert's allowance and his rights to the throne.

There is a remarkable difference in the way French- and Dutch-speaking media in Belgium were reporting about Delphine until now. All the Dutch-language media are taking Delphine's royal roots for granted, they write and speak as if it is a true fact. The francophone media are much more reluctant. "Some say that...", "the alleged..." etc. Some French-speaking media even say that all this fuss about Delphine is a Flemish conspiracy to undermine the throne and to destabilize Belgium. The truth is that mentality in Flanders is much like the one in England, where people are curious for facts, gossip and details which confirm that royals are as human as ordinary people. In the French-speaking part of Belgium, the media still treat the Royal Family as a sacred institution, not to be laughed about. The appearance of Delphine on French state television somehow seems to have changed this trend. As the proverb says: "When it rains in Paris, it drips in Brussels".

Delphine is not the only love child in the history of the Belgian royal family. Leopold I, the first Belgian king, had a mistress, Arcadie Cadet, for whom he arranged a marriage with an officer from his staff, Friedrich Meyer. Arcadie Meyer gave birth to two illegitimate royal children, Georges and Arthur. The king gave Arcadie and her children a nobility title, "Barron of Eppinghoven". Her descendants are living in Canada. Leopold II also had two illegitimate children with his mistress Blanche Delacroix, whom he married on his death bed. Lucien Delacroix became Duke of Tervuren, Philippe Delacroix Count of Ravenstein. Prince Charles, who briefly held office as Regent of Belgium after World War II, also had an illegitimate child, Isabelle Wybo. All of these names have already been published in several books.

In his book "A Throne in Brussels", to be published next week, author Paul Belien reveals that Count Michel Didisheim is an illegitimate son of King Leopold III, the father of kings Albert and Baudouin. It is the first time that this is revealed in print, although the rumour is not new. Didisheim was the private secretary of prince Albert before he became king. He is one of the founders of the "Bond Beter Leefmilieu - InterEnvironnement", an environmental lobbying group, and also is a member of B-Plus, a political action group promoting Belgian unity and federalism. He was the head of the Fondation Roi Baudouin for many years.

More information: Delphine's Manneke Pis
Descendants of Leopold I, King of The Belgians
Slate: Royal Shenanigans
BBC: Belgium's Royal sex scandal
La Libre: Albert II a voulu divorcer, affirme Delphine Boël





How do I find my friends Erwin and Jean Pierre when they are not very close to the throne? I knew them in Denver, Colorado 1990, The School of Mines(Golden, CO).




Not unless he turns into a newt. Give me the comfy chair.




Cardinal Biggles can't tempt you?





Stamina, check, Frequency, check. Nice uniforms, absolutely. But the Pope? Ewwww. Is this a Flemish thing?

Dick: Let's skip the Pope and go straight to Ovid, do not pass go, do not collect 200 declensions.


Dick Inorde


@dof: all right, there is a group of nouns in Greek using i (i or eta? Are we talking about the classical period or about later? The eta became an i too later) in the dative. Is this the dative singular or plural? For masculine, feminine or neutral nouns? And if we know all this, how relevant is a Greek dative for a Latin noun which needs its own (Latin) case endings in the nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, accusative and ablative to be used regularly?





I don't want to nag, but it's "Niki" de Saint Phalle, and not "Nike". Not all artists are sponsored, Luc ;-)




Size matters. Size and stamina. Well, size, stamina and frequency.

Amongst such diverse criteria as that matter are size, stamina, frequency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice uniforms.




I don't know, you guys. Who needs a classicist? What we need is a tape measure!

I know I'm going treading in a sensitive area, so to speak, but when it comes to things phallic, bigger is the norm on the western side of the Atlantic.




Francois-Aldo Vanmarcke


There are strong rumours that Prince Laurent could also be a "love child". Queen Paola had many alleged affairs at that time as well, and according to the source the biological father could be:

- an aristocrat ex-mayor of Brussels, now still active in MR party

- a well known italian-rooted belgian businessman, active in airport/airlines business and restaurants. He stil has close links the the Belgian royals and was often privileged in important business deals, like getting the monopoly in having stores at Brussels airport. Funnily he was not invited at Laurent's wedding.

- a west-flemish manufacturer of bathroom materials

But again, these are rumours. I think Laurent looks a little bit like Albert.


Leo Norekens


Am I really the first to make this observation?

I'd be surprised. It was the first thing I thought when the news broke out in 1999.


Leo Norekens


I am no classicist, but I assume that "delphus" is indeed a latinized transcription of "delphous".

I'm confused anyway, since I find (on that link you posted) that "delph(o)us" means "womb", while "delphis" means "dolphin".

Is there a classicist in the room?

Is this 'off topic' or what?


Anyway, if you think this is far-fetched, imagine baroness Sybille de Sélys Longchamps, pregnant, looking for baby names, as future mums do.

She is leafing through one of those baby names books (in French, naturellement) and she finds this:


"DELPHINE -- Sens et origine: Dauphin (latin)"

Inaccurate but clear enough.

Well... that's not so far-fetched, is it?




Yes, my first idea was that it was the latinized form of something else, but the word occurs in Lidell's Greek-English Lexicon. Maybe it was a typo?



Last I googled, -i was used for the dative in the 3rd declension in Greek.


Leo Norekens


Seriously dof, no offense, but "delphus" does not exist in Greek. It's "delphis".

Actually, I can't think of any "-US"-ending in Greek (except in "-OUS"). But that's from the top of MY head.


Dick Inorde


I usually used for a dative? In which language, since you don't know Greek? For which category of words? And what else is i used for in that language? And how relevant is this other language for datives in Greek? Yes, this is really from the top of your head.




I never studied Greek, but from the top of my head the -i usually is used for a dative, so I guess delphis means "with womb".


Leo Norekens



Delphis is not only the Greek word for "womb" (the Delphi region was tought to be the center of the world), but also for "Dolphin" (indeed a mammal).

Now the French word "dauphin" means both heir to the throne and dolphin.

"Dauphin" meaning "heir to the throne" derives from the Dauphiné region of France.

This dates back to Guy VIII, Count of Vienne (the principal city in the Dauphiné region), whose coat of arms included a dolphin and who had been nicknamed the "dauphin" (from Dauphiné). Subsequent heirs to the throne assumed the title "dauphin" and incorporated the dolphin in their coats of arms


Now the name of the "Dauphiné" region is thought to derive from a character named Delphinus or Delphin (meaning "of Delphi", like you said).


I'd say that Dauphin and Delphine are obviously related, but I doubt that Delphine's mother bothered to look it up. ;-)





The relation is only indirectly, as Delphine (Lat. Delphinia) means "of Delphi", one of the several epitheta for Artemis (besides Cynthia and Phoebe). Delphi is related to delphus, womb, which is something that dinstinguishes marine mammals from fish.

Artemis, as you know, is the daughter of Leto and Zeus, the latter a wellknown philanderer.


Leo Norekens


Albert & Paola's divorce was cancelled after Baudouin had "threatened to take away Albert's allowance and his rights to the throne".

Paul Belien wrote : "Only two things mattered to Leopold, first king of the Belgians: s* e* x* and m*o*n*e*y*." http://secessie.n...

I guess some things never change. The Coburgs can be bought. (Why don't we buy them out and dump the lot?)


Leo Norekens


*likeD* of course, sorry.


Leo Norekens


Did anyone ever notice that the name Delphine is etymologically related to the word "Dauphin" (French for "Heir to the throne"?)

Apparently Delpine's mother like this kind of word play: Delphine, who at the time did not know that Prince Albert was her father, was to call him "Papillon" (instead of Papa) when he came to visit her.

An aristocratic sense of humour...




One should not forget that King Leopold II had numerous affairs with ladies and has probably of al Belgian royals the highest amount of illegitimate children in and outside Belgium. I met in my younger years the son of an illegitimate daughter of this king, who was a prominent figure in the city of Bruges in the old days. You could clearly see his ressemblance with the king in question. He really had "a dynastic look" as my father used to say.