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Belgium’s royals are all smiles for Christmas portrait as debate around Princess Delphine continues

The Belgian King and Queen have sent festive greetings in their Christmas card which has just been released but, behind the smiles, a royal family row continues.

The Belgian Prime Minister has stepped into a debate about the role of the half sister of King Philippe, Princess Delphine.

Delphine had written to the PM to raise concerns that she wasn’t treated in the same way as the monarch’s other siblings, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent.

It followed King’s Day in November which saw Astrid and Laurent attend celebrations along with their parents, King Albert II and Queen Paola.

Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo, said that Princess Delphine doesn’t have an official role, like Astrid and Laurent, and so would not be invited to the annual celebrations. He added that ‘’we also do not ask her to do certain things.’’

As the row developed, Delphine made a further statement saying that she wants ‘’respect, not money’’.  

Princess Delphine is Albert II’s daughter from a relationship he had with Sibylle de Selys Longchamps in the 1960s. For many years, she believed her father to be Jacques Boel but she came to understand she was the former monarch’s daughter and pursued a court case to prove it. In 2020, DNA testing showed that Albert II was her father. Later that year, she was given a royal title but neither she nor her children are in the line of succession and they don’t receive a royal allowance.

As the row continued, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde issued their official Christmas card. The photo chosen this year shows them with their four children – Princess Elisabeth, 22, Prince Gabriel, 20, Prince Emmanuel, 18, and 15 year old Princess Eleonore. It was taken in the summer when Elisabeth, the heir to the throne, was home from her studies at Oxford.

King Philippe will make his Christmas broadcast on December 24th, as is traditional.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.