Belgian ex-king Albert concedes woman born from affair is his daughter following decades-old paternity scandal

Belgium's former King Albert II has admitted he is the father of a woman born from an affair, marking a major breakthrough in a decades-old royal paternity scandal.

Artist and sculptor Delphine Boël has been trying to establish paternity for years, beginning a legal battle six years ago to prove Albert was her father.

Last year the former king finally agreed to a DNA test and has now admitted he is Ms Boël's father following the results.

Delphine Boël poses for photographers in 2008 with her book 'Cutting the Ombilical Cord'. Credit: AP

A statement delivered by Albert II's lawyers to Belgian media said: "Scientific conclusions indicate that he is the biological father of Mrs Delphine Boël."

The former King said on Monday that even if there were judicial arguments left to pursue, legal paternity is not necessarily equal to biological fatherhood.

He added that even if the case could be continued on procedural grounds, he decided not to do so "to end with dignity this painful procedure".

Ms Boël had been trying to establish paternity for years, and Albert never publicly denied being her father but had long refused to provide DNA.

Former Belgian King Albert II with his wife Paola in 2016. Credit: AP

Ms Boël’s lawyer Marc Uyttendaele said on RTBF network that "her reaction was one of relief, emotion but also shows a wound that will not heal".

Rumours about Albert and Ms Boël’s mother, the aristocratic wife of a well-heeled industrialist, had been around for years, but the news that the king may have had a child with her broke into the open when a biography of Albert’s wife, Queen Paola, was published in 1999.

In his Christmas message to the nation that year, Albert alluded to a past infidelity and said he and Queen Paola lived through a "crisis" in the late 1960s that almost wrecked their marriage, but they overcame their marital problems "a long while ago".

In 2014 Ms Boël opened court proceedings to prove the former King, who abdicated in 2013 for health reasons, was her father.

The artist and sculptor, who bears a striking resemblance to some members of the royal family, has always said she brought the paternity case due to anger since she was being cold-shouldered by the royal family.