Will King Albert appear in court?

King Albert of the Belgians, the Belgian monarch who abdicated in 2013, has been summoned to appear in a civil court in connection with the efforts of Delphine Boël to get the king to recognise her as his daughter. But will the king appear in person?

Prof Paul Van Orshoven, an expert in public law, sheds light on King Albert's status and insists that he cannot count on any legal immunity:

"Even though we today still call King Albert a king, he isn't one. King Filip is Belgium's only king as defined under the Belgian constitution. Following his abdication the king was able to retain his title, but this has no legal ramifications."

"He doesn't enjoy any of the prerogatives of the king as head of state. He does not enjoy any immunity or privilege and cannot count on preferential treatment. If the court insists that he appear, then he must do so."

In the professor's view King Albert cannot invoke a single legal argument in order to refuse to appear to court. At the same time the king cannot be forced to appear in person as this is a civil case and not a criminal one. Prof Van Orshoven: "If he doesn't attend the court, the court cannot sanction him. However, the court is able to draw its conclusions from his failure to appear."

Last year King Albert modified the nature of his marriage contract with Queen Paola. All properties are now held in common by the couple. In this way the king is able to identify which possessions belong to the queen and could prevent Delphine Boël from sharing in the inheritance.

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