Sybille de Selys Longchamps (born 28 Aug 1941)
Mistress of: King Albert II of Belgium.
Tenure: c. 1966 – 1984.
Royal Bastards: One (Disputed).
Fall From Power: She left Belgium.
Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps first met Albert – then styled “Prince Albert” – in Athens, Greece where her father was ambassador and where Albert was on holiday. Both were in unhappy marriages and perhaps this is why they were drawn to each other, though she rejected his advances at first. A few months later, Sybille was invited to a grand dinner with a seat right next to the prince and “[she] immediately realized this was done on purpose.“ After a night of taking, and touching and flirting, Sybille and Albert began an affair. According to Sybille, she and Albert saw each other every day but the relationship was kept mostly secret.
In 1967, Sybille became pregnant around the same time as Albert’s brother, King Baudouin of Belgium, was intervening to end the affair. Albert was thrilled with the news, for Sybille believed she was unable to bear children. Albert’s wife, Queen Paola of Belgium, was naturally furious and had known for some time of her husband’s unfaithfulness. Albert and Paola’s marriage became more strained and there were rumors of a divorce. Sybille gave birth to a daughter, Delphine Boël, on February 22, 1968, officially fathered by Sybille’s husband, Jacques Boël, whom she had married in 1962. Albert was not there for the birth but was “in the neighborhood … and sent flowers.”
In 1968, Sybille moved to England with her daughter, though there are conflicting stories as to why the affair ended. All versions tend to agree that Albert wished to divorce his wife, and that Sybille persuaded him otherwise. On the other hand, at least one article states that Albert ended the affair abruptly though she never knew the reason. The former couple remained in touch for several years until the 1980s, at which time Albert cut off all contact. Sybille divorced her husband in 1978 and married a wealthy British widower, the Honourable Michael Anthony Rathborne Cayzer, who died in 1990.
Sybille’s affair became public in 1999 after an unauthorized biography of Queen Paola was published. The book contained a reference to the existence of a child born out a wedlock. The Belgian government jumped on this accusation and investigated the claim, which they traced back to Delphine. Both women refused to comment on the matter, and it was dismissed as gossip. By the early 2000s; however, Delphine was admitting in broadcasts and interviews that she was indeed the king’s daughter. In 2013, she began a campaign to use DNA testing to prove her claim; in March 2017, the Courts ruled against Delphine, though her lawyers stated she would appeal the ruling. Her efforts are backed by Sybille, who says they have both been ostracized by the public since the affair became public.
- ”Sybille de Selys Longchamps”, undated photographs, c. 1969. li>
- Oscar Coomans de Brachène. État présent de la noblesse belge, Annuaire de 1998, première partie (de Selys Longchamps). p. 187-197. Brussels (1998).
- Lungescu, Oana. 27 October 1999. “Belgium’s royal sex scandal BBC, retrieved 27 April 2010”. BBC News. 1999-10-27.
- Bacchi, Umberto (18 June 2013). “Belgium: King Albert’s ‘Disowned Natural Daughter’ Delphine Boel Seeks Recognition in Court.” International Business Times.