Royal Bastards: Why Delphine was made Princess of Belgium and Jazmin Grimaldi was NOT

It is uncommon to hear illegitimate children being given royal titles and the style HRH as these privileges are only granted to children legally begotten by royals.

But one illegitimate daughter of a former king exactly got it, which is still considered unique in the world.

Delphine de Saxe-Coburg

Usually, monarchs who have illegitimate children never publicly admitted their bastards, and always dismiss the issue as rumors. 

However, two royals in Europe (one is former king, the other is current Crown Head) in modern times publicly admitted having illegitimate children.

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi

For decades, prior to settling down in 2011, Prince Albert II, the reigning Sovereign Prince of Monaco, constantly hugged headlines due to his romantic adventures.

His love affair, for so long, had been the subject of so much media interest. 

His love life had once caused alarm to his father, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who had wished his son would settle down and provide the Monegasque throne with legitimate heirs.

Prince Albert II of Monaco

But the prince loved to cavort with commoners than find an appropriate bride from the aristocracy as what his father had wished. He dated a string of sexy women, from fashion models to sultry actresses. And even flight attendant and waitress.

On April 5, 2005, Prince Rainier III died without seeing his son wed. And not long after, the new Sovereign Prince, made headlines due to having illegitimate.

Before he was enthroned in July 2005, the Sovereign Prince admitted having an illegitimate son, Alexandre Coste born in 2003, to Nicole Coste, a Togoese flight attendant he met while boarding Air France in 1997.

December that year (2005), he admitted being in a relationship with Charlene Wittstock, a South African (but of German and Irish ancestry) Olympian. This relationship would endure despite the prince's playboy image. They got married six years later, on July 1, 2011.

But in 2007, Prince Albert admitted again having an illegitimate daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, born in 1992 in the United States, to an American waitress, Tamara Rotolo, whom the prince met in 1991 while Rotolo was holidaying in Cote de Azur.

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi. Credit @jazmingracegrimaldi instagram

Publicly admitting having two illegitimate children seemed didn't perturb Charlene as both happened before their romantic relationship.

Prince Albert and Jazmin Grace Grimaldi

Prince Albert finally sired legitimate children when Princess Charlene gave birth to twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, in December 2014. The two are first in line and second in line to the Monegasque throne respectively.

Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques 

So, how about the two illegitimate children of the prince?

Obviously, children born outside the marriage, don't have succession rights and Prince Albert emphasized this in his 2012 interview. Jazmin Grimaldi and Alexandre Coste won't be in the line of succession but they will be provided with financial support.

But there's a difference in treatment between his two illegitimate children in the succession line. 

While Alexandre Coste is listed in a broken line in the family tree (which means he is eligible to succeed if his parents will enter into a valid marriage), Jazmin is not.

The Monegasque Succession Law changes in 2002 stated that only legitimate children of the reigning prince could possibly succeed, illegitimate children could only succeed if the parents will enter into a valid marriage.

Children born out of adultery are effectively excluded. 

Jazmin was born in a time her mother's divorce from her first husband was not finalized yet which made her a product of an adulterous relationship, which disqualifies her to become a possible heir.

Delphine de Saxe-Coburg

Another illegitimate child of a royal is Delphine de Saxe-Coburg born Delphine Boel on February 22, 1968. Her mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, had an extramarital affair in the 1960s  with the then Prince Albert of Liege, who would become King Albert II of Belgium in 1993.

Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, a daughter of a Belgian count, married a steel magnate, Baron Jacques Boel. The marriage did not produce children but in 1968, Sybille gave birth to a daughter Delphine and took the surname, Boel.

The couple divorced in 1978 and in 1982, Sybille remarried to a shipping tycoon, The Honorable Michael Anthony Cayzer, son of Herbert Cayzer, 1st Baron Rotherwick.

Albert II, former King of the Belgians, and Queen Paola

According to our gathered information, Sybille and the then Prince Albert met in Athens, Greece when he encountered trouble in his boat engines while holidaying, and needed to stay the night in a Belgian embassy in Athens. At the time, the Belgian ambassador to Greece was Sybille's father and she was in Athens visiting her father.

After being introduced in Athens, the two began a secret affair. 

Two years later, Sybille gave birth to Delphine. The child would see Prince Albert in secret but when he became king, to avoid scandal, Albert II began to distance himself and deny he is her father. 

This denial prompted Delphine to go to court to force the king to submit to a DNA test. She said she has no desire of monetary support or any inheritance from the king because her stepfather is richer than the Belgian royal family.

Delphine had to fight for years to be recognized by King Albert II as his biological daughter until the former Belgian king was forced to agree to a DNA test under a threat of a 5,000 euro a day penalty if he will continue to refuse to take a DNA test.

In October 2020, after proving through a DNA result that she was indeed Albert II's bastard, she was lawfully recognized as Princess of Belgium with the style Her Royal Highness.

In October 2020, after the Court ruling in favor of her, Delphine finally met her father, King Albert II, and his wife, Queen Paola, closing the tumultuous chapter of their lives marred with legal disputes and scandals

After the court ruling recognizing her as part of the Belgian royal family, Delphine paid a visit to her father and she was received to his sitting room, and also in the presence was Queen Paola.

The meeting was a major turning point in their relationship marred with pain, scandals, legal dispute, and rejection. 

Queen Paola and King Albert released a statement opening a new chapter in their lives "full of emotion, understanding and hope. After the tumult, the wounds and sufferings, comes the time of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation".

Princess Delphine met her half-brother, King Philippe, for the first time in 2020

So why on earth she was granted the title of Princess and HRH style and her children when she is only an illegitimate daughter?

The answer relies on Belgium's vague succession law.

In 1991, the law of succession in Belgium was changed to Absolute Primogeniture, which stated that an eldest child irrespective of gender, would be the heir-apparent. 

King Albert II of Belgium, his son King Philippe, and granddaughter, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, the heir-apparent

Along with the changes was the specification that all children and grandchildren of then Prince Albert, the heir-presumptive of his childless brother, King Baudouin, will get the royal title and HRH style.

This provision did not specify if the children are within the marriage or born out-of-wedlock, it only stated "children" of Albert. Thus, the law also covers even the illegitimates as long as it will be proven that they are children of  Albert. 

And so was the case of Delphine.

Upon the recognition of the Court of Appeal in Brussels, Delphine immediately changed her name to Delphine de Saxe-Coburg.

Delphine attending her first royal activity with her husband, James O'Hare in 2021 during Belgium's National Day

Saxe-Coburg is the surname of the Belgian royals. The first Belgian king was Leopold I, the uncle of both Queen Victoria of Britain and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

In addition, Delphine also got the Princess of Belgium status and the style of Her Royal Highness. These privileges of royal titles are extended to her children.

Delphine and her mother, Baroness Sybille Cayzer

After the recognition of the Belgian Court regarding her royal status, her lawyer told the press Delphine is happy to have attained the same status of her half-siblings and that she is delighted with the court decision which ends a long process of the lawsuit battle.

Upon assuming the title of princess, Delphine demanded of royal privileges or at least assuming royal role. However, the Belgian royal court remained silent of what would be her specific role within the Belgian royal family. 

King Albert II, Queen Paola, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde

King Albert II's marriage to Queen Paola, despite the controversy, remained intact, and the couple will be celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary this year.

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