(CNN)The former king of Belgium, Albert II, has met with his once-secret daughter, Princess Delphine, for the first time since she was recognized as a royal, after years of legal battles forced the ex-monarch to finally acknowledge fathering her more than five decades ago.
Former Belgian king meets daughter for first time since she became a royal
Albert's lawyers acknowledged in January that the 52-year-old Belgian artist, then known as Delphine Boël, was his daughter, seven years into a legal battle over her paternity.
Delphine subsequently sued to become a member of the royal family, and the pair met in person for the first time at Belvédère Castle in Brussels on Sunday, the royal family said in a statement.
"On Sunday, October 25, a new chapter began, filled with emotions, appeasement, understanding and also of hope," they said in a joint statement that was also signed by Albert's wife, Queen Paola.
"Our meeting took place at Belvédère Castle, a meeting during which each of us was able to express our feelings and experiences serenely and with empathy," the statement read.
Albert had originally contested Delphine's claim that she was conceived during an affair between him and her mother, Sybille de Selys Longchamps, in 1968, but reversed his position following the results of a court-ordered paternity test.
He had initially failed to submit to a DNA paternity test when ordered to do so by the Brussels Court of Appeal in October 2018. The court later ordered he would face a fine of €5,000 ($5,600) each day until he did so.
"After the turmoil, suffering, and hurt, it is time for forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. Together we decided to take this new path. This will take patience and effort, but we are determined," the statement said.
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.
Speaking in January, Alain Berenboom, Albert's lawyer, told CNN affiliate VTM News that the former monarch would "treat all his children as equal," and that Delphine would be included in his will.
Earlier this month, Belgium's current king, Philippe, also met with his half-sister for the first time, in what the monarchy described as a "warm encounter."