This weekend, Belgium’s newest royal princess wore an appropriately artistic ensemble at an art festival in the Netherlands—including a very playful necklace.
Princess Delphine of Belgium, half-sister of King Philippe, participated in a special conversation during the festival, which also showcased an exhibition of her modern art. She poses with one of her sculptural pieces in the photograph at the top of this article.
Who is Princess Delphine, some of you might ask, and why is she Belgium’s newest princess? Here’s some helpful background. In the late 1960s, after having three children (King Philippe, Princess Astrid, and Prince Laurent), Prince Albert and Prince Paola of Belgium’s relationship hit a serious rocky patch. The couple began living largely separate lives, and there were discussions of moving toward divorce. Prince Albert had an extramarital relationship with a Belgian aristocrat, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, that spanned nearly two decades. In 1968, Sybille gave birth to a daughter, Delphine, who was presumed to be the child of her husband, Jacques Boël.
The truth was that Delphine’s father was Prince Albert, but that fact was kept hidden for years. Albert and Paola eventually reconciled, and in 1993, they became King and Queen of the Belgians. By the late ’90s, the rumors of Albert’s secret child grew louder and louder, and the press identified Delphine as the most likely candidate. After Albert’s abdication in 2013, Delphine decided to press her legal claims. After years of battling in court, a 2020 DNA test proved that Albert is indeed Delphine’s biological father. That October, a Belgian court granted Delphine and her two children royal status, and she is now HRH Princess Delphine of Belgium.
Here, Delphine poses with a large-scale public installation of one of her art pieces, “Ageless Love,” shortly after she became a legal member of the royal family. Since that time, she has met with her biological father and her half-siblings, and she and her partner, Jim O’Hare, have begun attending annual royal events like the country’s National Day celebrations.
Delphine has also continued her art career. For this weekend’s exhibition, she wore a playful necklace decorated with dominoes, plus a blouse featuring a print of one of her own designs. Both felt particularly appropriate for an art-related event.
We’ve seen Delphine wear the domino necklace in the past as well. In July 2019, she wore the necklace at the funeral of Princess Stéphanie Windisch-Graetz. The late Princess Stéphanie was a member of the extended Belgian royal family: her grandmother, Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria, was the only daughter of Princess Stéphanie of Belgium and the ill-fated Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. Like Delphine, the younger Princess Stéphanie was an artist, so the choice of an artistic piece of jewelry was a lovely tribute to her memory.
Princess Delphine also frequently wears textiles with prints of her original artwork and designs. Here, she wears a mask printed with one of her designs on Vaccine Day in Brussels in November 2020.
And here, in December 2020, she wears a silk scarf printed with her artwork as she stands in front of the official logo of her new charity foundation, the Fonds Prinses Delphine van Saksen-Coburg, at the University Hospital in Ghent. The foundation supports the integration of art into the world of healthcare.
You’ll notice that Princess Delphine is wearing the same large red bracelet on her right wrist in both the pictures from Saturday’s event and her 2020 foundation launch. And she added even more fun and color to her ensemble this weekend with an additional stack of bracelets on her left arm. I think it’s admirable that Delphine has managed her transition to royal life so smoothly while still maintaining her own identity and career, and I love the way she uses her jewelry to express herself.