Titles of the Belgian Royal Family 2: 2023 -


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Welcome to the Titles of the Belgian Royal Family thread, part 2

Commencing August 8th, 2023

The previous thread can be found here

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However, the judges' 2020 title decision was not (at least as far as I read) anticipated by the legal experts interviewed in the press, so it seems the judges' interpretation of the law was not the most common one.

My personal opinion is that the 2020 legal ruling was not compliant with Article 106 of the Constitution, which states: "The King may confer titles of nobility". To me it would seem the Constitution's intended meaning is that is for the King and not the judges to confer titles of nobility.

The judges based their decision on Article 10, which stipulates that "Belgians are equal before the law", and Article 11, which stipulates that "Enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised for Belgians must be provided without discrimination". But (again in my personal opinion) their ruling was not truly consistent with those articles, because it did not equalize the system of nobiliary titles, which continues to discriminate against women and all illegitimate children other than Delphine. (Children of noble women, and illegitimate children of noble men other than Delphine, still do not bear their parents' titles. Article 10 also states "Equality between women and men is guaranteed.")

https://www.lachambre.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/constitution/GrondwetUK.pdf
https://www.justice-en-ligne.be/Delphine-de-Saxe-Cobourg-membre-de

But the ruling argued that the King did confer a title on Delphine and her children under Art.2 of the Royal Decree of 2015 as children and grandchildren born of the descendancy of King Albert II. The royal decree does not make any explicit mention of a legitimacy requirement, so no such requirement exists unless we interpret "Les Princes et Princesses" at the beginning of Articles 1-4 as implicitly referring only to dynasts (as in the French "Princes du Sang"). Personally I think that should be the proper interpretation, but the Court had a different opinion.

I see what you mean, but even then the judicial court's ruling remains contradictory. If they did not interpret "the Princes and Princesses" as restricting the Royal Decree's conferrals of titles to dynasts, then – using the same interpretation – they should have granted the title Prince or Princess of Belgium to (among others) Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Alexandra Moncada under Article 1 of the same Royal Decree, since they are also grandchildren of a King:

Article 1. In the public and private acts relating to them, the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from the King as well as the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, born in direct descendance from the Crown Prince or the Crown Princess carry the title of Prince or of Princess of Belgium following their forename and, so far as they carry them, their family name and their dynastic title and ahead of the other titles to which their ancestry gives them the right. Their forename is preceded by the predicate His or Her Royal Highness.

Likewise, if they decided that the words "the Princes and Princesses" at the beginning of each article do not limit those articles to actual princes and princesses (Delphine was not yet a princess when the judges were ruling on the decree), then they should have granted "titles" under Article 4 to all descendants of Leopold I (Leopold George Christian Frederick).

Article 4. The Princes and Princesses, issuing in direct descendance from His Majesty Leopold George Christian Frederick of Saxe-Coburg, who are not covered by Articles 1 to 3, carry following their forename and, so far as they carry it, their family name, the titles to which their ancestry gives them the right.​

And they should also have explained why – if their logic holds – Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha wasn't the Duke of Brabant from 1878 to 1909. :whistling:
 
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I see what you mean, but even then the judicial court's ruling remains contradictory. If they did not interpret "the Princes and Princesses" as restricting the Royal Decree's conferrals of titles to dynasts, then – using the same interpretation – they should have granted the title Prince or Princess of Belgium to (among others) Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Alexandra Moncada under Article 1 of the same Royal Decree, since they are also grandchildren of a King:

In my personal opinion, that would be a bit of a stretch: Grand Duke Henri or Alexandra Moncada are not descendants of King Albert II, and it's pretty clear to me that until Albert's descendants (1991 Royal Decree), titles were never passed through females. And, from what I've always understood, Delphine and her children were given titles under article 2 of the Royal Decree of 2015, so not because they were child(ren) and grandchildren of a generic King, but of King Albert II.

That's why I had said, in previous posts, that the royal decree in that part was "badly worded" because it would have been sufficient to add "born within marrriage" and Delphine and her children wouldn't have been given titles. And I'm sure that, regardless of personal feelings of various kind, King Philippe wasn't thrilled with his half-sister and her children being given princely titles under a royal decree which actually intended to restrict the number of people who would hold royal titles, a few months before the birth of King Albert's first great-grandchild (Anna Astrid, born in May 2016), who under the previous rules would have been a Princess of Belgium, as a "direct descendant" (without generational restrictions) of Albert
 
In my personal opinion, that would be a bit of a stretch: Grand Duke Henri or Alexandra Moncada are not descendants of King Albert II, and it's pretty clear to me that until Albert's descendants (1991 Royal Decree), titles were never passed through females. And, from what I've always understood, Delphine and her children were given titles under article 2 of the Royal Decree of 2015, so not because they were child(ren) and grandchildren of a generic King, but of King Albert II.

If you reread my previous post, I referred to Article 1 (children and grandchildren of a generic king and crown prince/ss), not Article 2 (children and grandchildren of King Albert II). :flowers:

The wording of Article 1 and Article 2 is otherwise identical, so since Delphine was given titles under Article 2, then Grand Duke Henri or Alexandra Moncada should have been given titles under Article 1.


Article 1. In the public and private acts relating to them, the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from the King as well as the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from the Crown Prince or the Crown Princess carry the title of Prince or of Princess of Belgium following their forename and, so far as they carry them, their family name and their dynastic title and ahead of the other titles to which their ancestry gives them the right. Their forename is preceded by the predicate His or Her Royal Highness.

Article 2. In the public and private acts relating to them, the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from His Majesty King Albert II carry the title of Prince or of Princess of Belgium following their forename, and, so far as they carry them, their family name and their dynastic title and ahead of the other titles to which their ancestry gives them the right. Their forename is preceded by the predicate His or Her Royal Highness.


Regarding your comment that until 1991 titles were never passed through females: Until the Delphine ruling, titles were never passed through extramarital relationships, either. So precedent cannot be used as an excuse to grant titles to Delphine and not Alexandra.
 
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If you reread my previous post, I referred to Article 1 (children and grandchildren of a generic king and crown prince/ss), not Article 2 (children and grandchildren of King Albert II). :flowers:

The wording of Article 1 and Article 2 is otherwise identical, so since Delphine was given titles under Article 2, then Grand Duke Henri or Alexandra Moncada should have been given titles under Article 1.


Article 1. In the public and private acts relating to them, the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from the King as well as the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from the Crown Prince or the Crown Princess carry the title of Prince or of Princess of Belgium following their forename and, so far as they carry them, their family name and their dynastic title and ahead of the other titles to which their ancestry gives them the right. Their forename is preceded by the predicate His or Her Royal Highness.

Article 2. In the public and private acts relating to them, the Princes and the Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from His Majesty King Albert II carry the title of Prince or of Princess of Belgium following their forename, and, so far as they carry them, their family name and their dynastic title and ahead of the other titles to which their ancestry gives them the right. Their forename is preceded by the predicate His or Her Royal Highness.


Regarding your comment that until 1991 titles were never passed through females: Until the Delphine ruling, titles were never passed through extramarital relationships, either. So precedent cannot be used as an excuse to grant titles to Delphine and not Alexandra.

I've never said anything about "precedent" (Belgium is a civil-law country), I've of course read your comment. I'll try to explain again what I meant.

The regulations of the 2015 Royal Decree are valid for the future, just like most pieces of legislation, not the past, unless it is otherwise indicated (and so not for Grand Duke Henri, Victor Emmanuel of Savoy or Alexandra Moncada-all people who didn't receive any Belgian title from their mothers because of the laws at the time-nothing to do with precedent). Article 1 simply states that, from that moment on, the children and grandchildren of the King and the Crown Prince/ss will be Princes/Princesses of Belgium (Elisabeth, her future children and grandchildren; Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eleonore and their future children),
Article 2 says that the "Princes and Princesses, children and grandchildren" born in the descendance of King Albert II (without further specification-here's the problem, for me) are Prince/ss of Belgium. So, one could say, why was Delphine given a title in 2020, when she was 52, and her two children as well? It must be considered that Delphine was not a legal child of Albert until 2020; when she was officially acknowledged, she and her children automatically, according to the interpretation of the Belgian judges, fell under the cathegory specified in article 2 and so were given princely titles in the very moment their legal connection to Albert (which up to that point didn't exist) was established. So, the judges simply applied the law of the day- in 2020-, a law that is not applicable to the people you mentioned, whose legal relationship to members of the Belgian royal family was established when other laws were applied.
In the article of La Libre Belgique I've linked it is said: the present Decree will apply to members of the royal famiy "who are to be born": in a way, so it's natural it also applied to Delphine, who was only acknowledged as legal daughter of King Albert 5 years after the Decree. Of course, if the lawmaker had specified that the children and grandchildren of King Albert had to be born within marrriage (which would have been a good thing to do), Delphine and her children wouldn't have had titles
 
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I've never said anything about "precedent" (Belgium is a civil-law country), I've of course read your comment. I'll try to explain again what I meant.

Then I apologize for misinterpreting what you meant. :flowers: Over these years, the claim that legitimate female-line descendants do not deserve a title because of "tradition" yet Delphine deserves a title (even though that also goes against "tradition") has been argued over and over by many royal watchers, whereas I think you are the first person on this forum who has made the argument based on the date of birth or legal recognition. I hope that helps to explain why I misunderstood your reference to "until Albert's descendants (1991 Royal Decree), titles were never passed through females".


However, I also never said the judges should have made their ruling valid for the past - only that they should have granted titles, for the future, in a consistent manner. Thus, since Delphine was granted titles for the future under article 2, living people who qualify under article 1 should likewise have been granted titles for the future.



I understand your argument: Delphine is different from other descendants outside the legitimate male lines (like Henri, Vittorio Emanuele, or Alexandra) because the others became legal descendants of a Belgian king before the 2015 decree, whereas Delphine only became a legal descendant of a Belgian king after the decree was in force.

However, the court judgment (at least the excerpts in the justice-en-ligne.be article I linked to; if you have access to more of the judgment, I would appreciate your sharing it) did not mention that distinction. In fact, the judges rejected the argument that descendants should be treated differently depending on the timing of when they legally became a descendant of a king.

King Albert II's argument was the flipside of your own: He argued that the decree only granted titles to descendants whose royal parentage was established before the decree. The court rejected his argument, saying it would be unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of the time at which parentage was established. Quoting the judgment:

To decide otherwise would be to create a discrimination, or a difference in treatment without an objective criterion or reasonable justification, between the children and grandchildren in direct descent from King Albert II depending on the moment at which their filiation with King Albert II was established, which would violate articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution.​


The Royal Decree's wording does not make distinctions based on time of birth/acknowledgement. (I linked to the full Decree in my earlier post, so I am confused by your comment "states that, from that moment on" because those words do not appear in the decree.)

I also don't think it was a distinction that King Philippe had in mind when he issued his decree. The palace's briefing to the media in 2015 did not state that the decree would only grant titles to descendants yet to be born. I have read the La Libre article you linked to, along with other press reports from 2015, and in context, reporters' comments such as "Le nouvel arrêté royal modifie la donne pour les membres de la famille royale à naître" (I think that is the one you quoted) refer to the fact that nobody living had their titles removed by the 2015 reform (unlike in Denmark recently). The decree was not intended to grant or remove royal titles, but to prevent the royal name "of Belgium" and the royal predicate "Royal Highness" from being passed on without limitation.
 
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Linda on Friday 15 December on TV 1 at 20.15 : Philippe une année avec le Roi des Belges by Nicolas Delvaux. Will you be able to see it ?
 
Then I apologize for misinterpreting what you meant. :flowers: Over these years, the claim that legitimate female-line descendants do not deserve a title because of "tradition" yet Delphine deserves a title (even though that also goes against "tradition") has been argued over and over by many royal watchers, whereas I think you are the first person on this forum who has made the argument based on the date of birth or legal recognition. I hope that helps to explain why I misunderstood your reference to "until Albert's descendants (1991 Royal Decree), titles were never passed through females".


However, I also never said the judges should have made their ruling valid for the past - only that they should have granted titles, for the future, in a consistent manner. Thus, since Delphine was granted titles for the future under article 2, living people who qualify under article 1 should likewise have been granted titles for the future.



I understand your argument: Delphine is different from other descendants outside the legitimate male lines (like Henri, Vittorio Emanuele, or Alexandra) because the others became legal descendants of a Belgian king before the 2015 decree, whereas Delphine only became a legal descendant of a Belgian king after the decree was in force.

However, the court judgment (at least the excerpts in the justice-en-ligne.be article I linked to; if you have access to more of the judgment, I would appreciate your sharing it) did not mention that distinction. In fact, the judges rejected the argument that descendants should be treated differently depending on the timing of when they legally became a descendant of a king.

King Albert II's argument was the flipside of your own: He argued that the decree only granted titles to descendants whose royal parentage was established before the decree. The court rejected his argument, saying it would be unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of the time at which parentage was established. Quoting the judgment:

To decide otherwise would be to create a discrimination, or a difference in treatment without an objective criterion or reasonable justification, between the children and grandchildren in direct descent from King Albert II depending on the moment at which their filiation with King Albert II was established, which would violate articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution.​


The Royal Decree's wording does not make distinctions based on time of birth/acknowledgement. (I linked to the full Decree in my earlier post, so I am confused by your comment "states that, from that moment on" because those words do not appear in the decree.)

I also don't think it was a distinction that King Philippe had in mind when he issued his decree. The palace's briefing to the media in 2015 did not state that the decree would only grant titles to descendants yet to be born. I have read the La Libre article you linked to, along with other press reports from 2015, and in context, reporters' comments such as "Le nouvel arrêté royal modifie la donne pour les membres de la famille royale à naître" (I think that is the one you quoted) refer to the fact that nobody living had their titles removed by the 2015 reform (unlike in Denmark recently). The decree was not intended to grant or remove royal titles, but to prevent the royal name "of Belgium" and the royal predicate "Royal Highness" from being passed on without limitation.

Thanks for your detailled answer.
Looking more closely at the royal decree, however, there's another point that I wanted to clarify . In my opinion, the "King" mentioned in Article 1, is not just "any King of the Belgians", but the King who was in office at the time the decree was issued (Philippe), and his future successors. If it was just a generic mention of "any King", article 2 wouldn't make any sense, and wouldn't be needed,.because Albert II would clearly be included in the cathegory "any king of the Belgians". And also article 3 wouldn't be needed: it basically covers the cases of Marie-Christine and Esmeralda, who are princesses of Belgium due to their descent from Leopold I in the male line. Again, they're daughters of Leopold III, so if the reference in article 1 was to a generic King, it wouldn't be further specified.
So, the various female-lines descendants like Henri or Vittorio Emanuele (clearly not descended from Philippe, or his successors) do not qualify under article 1 to become Princes of Belgium, in my opinion, and judges were right in not granting them titles (and, besides that, I'm not sure why, even if they were entitled, judges should grant titles to people who didn't ask for them).
Of course I'm very much in favour of female succession, but unfortunately, as it stands, females were not allowed (by law) to pass down their titles in Belgium until 1991. Then the law changed, but starting from Albert's descendants (also due to pratical reasons-his sister was married to a foreign head of State, it would certainly have been weird for their children to suddenly become Princes of Belgium), and I don't see anything in the current legislation
that could justify granting the title of "Prince of Belgium" to the living female-line grandchildren
of Albert I and Leopold III.

Delphine's case is different, because she's a child of King Albert II (article 2) and, for the reasons I explained before, I think the royal decree can apply to her, even if it wasn't the iawmaker's intention
 
Thanks for your detailled answer.

Thank you as well for your earlier assurance that you read my comment (I assumed you did, but thought you might have missed that I named article 1 rather than 2) and your detailed replies.


Looking more closely at the royal decree, however, there's another point that I wanted to clarify . In my opinion, the "King" mentioned in Article 1, is not just "any King of the Belgians", but the King who was in office at the time the decree was issued (Philippe), and his future successors. If it was just a generic mention of "any King", article 2 wouldn't make any sense, and wouldn't be needed,.because Albert II would clearly be included in the cathegory "any king of the Belgians". And also article 3 wouldn't be needed: it basically covers the cases of Marie-Christine and Esmeralda, who are princesses of Belgium due to their descent from Leopold I in the male line. Again, they're daughters of Leopold III, so if the reference in article 1 was to a generic King, it wouldn't be further specified.

[...]

Of course I'm very much in favour of female succession, but unfortunately, as it stands, females were not allowed (by law) to pass down their titles in Belgium until 1991. Then the law changed, but starting from Albert's descendants (also due to pratical reasons-his sister was married to a foreign head of State, it would certainly have been weird for their children to suddenly become Princes of Belgium), and I don't see anything in the current legislation that could justify granting the title of "Prince of Belgium" to the living female-line grandchildren of Albert I and Leopold III.

I fully agree with you (for very similar reasons) that based on textual analysis, it was King Philippe's intention for the mention of "King" in article 1 of the 2015 decree only to denote the current and future kings. I also agree with you that the expressed intention of King Baudouin's 1991 decree was for only those descendants who were in line to the throne to be Princes(ses) of Belgium.

However, the judicial court ignored other textual evidence in the decrees of King Philippe's intentions (to be clear, I think there is strong textual evidence in the decrees that King Philippe did not intend to grant titles to Delphine) and the intentions of the kings who issued the earlier decrees (they ignored the references to "the Princes and Princesses" and the application of parallel wording in earlier situations) in order to grant titles to Delphine.

Therefore it would, in my opinion, still have been hypocritical of them if they had relied on textual evidence of Philippe's or Baudouin's or Leopold I's intentions to continue denying titles to other descendants to whom Article 1 of the 2015 decree should apply, if the judges took Article 1 literally and ignored the words "the Princes and Princesses" in the same way they did with Article 2 in order to apply it to Delphine.


Delphine's case is different, because she's a child of King Albert II (article 2) and, for the reasons I explained before, I think the royal decree can apply to her, even if it wasn't the iawmaker's intention

I understand your reasons as explained in your earlier post (and I believe you are being more logical than the court in 2020 :flowers:). But since the judges rejected that reasoning and instead decided it was unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of timing, as they explained in their judgment, I would still consider it hypocritical for them to discriminate between earlier and later generations.


(and, besides that, I'm not sure why, even if they were entitled, judges should grant titles to people who didn't ask for them).

It is the way in which hereditary titles of nobility (including royal titles) normally function. Except for Delphine and other rare exceptions, Belgians are not given a choice about whether they bear hereditary titles of nobility or not. (Non-hereditary life titles given in recognition of national service are a different story.) Titled people can of course choose whether or not to use their titles.
 
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However, the judicial court ignored other textual evidence in the decrees of King Philippe's intentions (to be clear, I think there is strong textual evidence in the decrees that King Philippe did not intend to grant titles to Delphine) and the intentions of the kings who issued the earlier decrees (they ignored the references to "the Princes and Princesses" and the application of parallel wording in earlier situations) in order to grant titles to Delphine.

Therefore it would, in my opinion, still have been hypocritical of them if they had relied on textual evidence of Philippe's or Baudouin's or Leopold I's intentions to continue denying titles to other descendants to whom Article 1 of the 2015 decree should apply, if the judges took Article 1 literally and ignored the words "the Princes and Princesses" in the same way they did with Article 2 in order to apply it to Delphine.


All right-that's here that our opinion differs: for me, the textual evidence to support the claim that it wasn't Philippe's intention (and it wasn't-but it had to be better worded) to grant titles to Delphine is not strong enough to eliminate other possibile interpretations, such as the one given by the court in 2020. On the other hand, the mention of " The King" in article 1, to me, can only refer to Philippe and his successors, as it would be completely absurd and illogical for the Belgian lawmaker to add two further articles that would be otherwise not needed. So, it is perfectly plausible to me that judges can have interpreted the word "King" in article 1 in accordance with the lawmaker's intention (as it is more clear and straightforward) and so coming to the logical conclusion that it shouldn't apply to living female-line descendants of Albert I and Leopold III (who don't qualify as "The King", under article 1), while at the same time the words "Princes and Princesses", both in article 1 and 2, can be interpreted differently than what the lawmaker had in mind, therefore potentially having the unintended effect to give royal titles to living people who previously didn't have them, also under article 1 (as the restrictive interpretation is not unequivocal, to me, so the judges didn't "ignore" the textual evidence, simply interpreted it differently)-for example, to any possible out-of-wedlock children and grandchildren of King Philippe, who upon recognition, should receive titles as well under article 1 , (according to this interpretation). As a side note, I'm sure there aren't any unacknowledged descendants of King Philippe- it was just an example.


I understand your reasons as explained in your earlier post (and I believe you are being more logical than the court in 2020 :flowers:). But since the judges rejected that reasoning and instead decided it was unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of timing, as they explained in their judgment, I would still consider it hypocritical for them to discriminate between earlier and later generations.

I see what you mean, but I don't see it as hypocritical: there is no way, in my opinion, that this royal decree can apply to female-line descendants of previous Kings of the Belgians (due to the interpretation of the word "King" in article 1). The court decided it was unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of timing (meaning "the timing of when the parentage was established"), but among the people to whom this royal decree applies (for example, according to their interpretation, Delphine and the other children of King Albert II, and, potentially, an imaginary out-of-wedlock child of King Philippe, who would be later acknowledged, and his other four children).

It is the way in which hereditary titles of nobility (including royal titles) normally function. Except for Delphine and other rare exceptions, Belgians are not given a choice about whether they bear hereditary titles of nobility or not. (Non-hereditary life titles given in recognition of national service are a different story.) Titled people can of course choose whether or not to use their titles.

Thanks for your answer on that point, as it wasn't clear to me
 
All right-that's here that our opinion differs: for me, the textual evidence to support the claim that it wasn't Philippe's intention (and it wasn't-but it had to be better worded) to grant titles to Delphine is not strong enough to eliminate other possibile interpretations, such as the one given by the court in 2020. On the other hand, the mention of " The King" in article 1, to me, can only refer to Philippe and his successors, as it would be completely absurd and illogical for the Belgian lawmaker to add two further articles that would be otherwise not needed. So, it is perfectly plausible to me that judges can have interpreted the word "King" in article 1 in accordance with the lawmaker's intention (as it is more clear and straightforward) and so coming to the logical conclusion that it shouldn't apply to living female-line descendants of Albert I and Leopold III (who don't qualify as "The King", under article 1), while at the same time the words "Princes and Princesses", both in article 1 and 2, can be interpreted differently than what the lawmaker had in mind, therefore potentially having the unintended effect to give royal titles to living people who previously didn't have them, also under article 1 (as the restrictive interpretation is not unequivocal, to me, so the judges didn't "ignore" the textual evidence, simply interpreted it differently)-for example, to any possible out-of-wedlock children and grandchildren of King Philippe, who upon recognition, should receive titles as well under article 1 , (according to this interpretation). As a side note, I'm sure there aren't any unacknowledged descendants of King Philippe- it was just an example.

Yes, I think you identified the source of our difference of opinion. I am glad we agree (if I read you correctly) that:
(a) It is not hypocritical to ignore or reinterpret weaker, more equivocal textual evidence of the lawmaker's (king's) intentions in one area but defer to stronger, less equivocal evidence of his intentions in another area.
(b) It is hypocritical to ignore or reinterpret strong evidence of the lawmaker's (king's) intentions in one area while insisting that evidence of the lawmaker's intentions must be followed in another area.

We simply disagree on whether the judges would be practicing (a) or (b) if they were relying on the reasons you proposed. (I say "if" because the published excerpts of the judgment do not even mention the question of why they did not confer titles on people other than Delphine and her children, let alone explain the judges' thought process behind it, so we are forced to make educated guesses. Realistically, I suppose it is a possibility that they never even bothered to think about it.)


(Out of curiosity, since I'm not sure if you have read through other discussions about the "restrictive interpretation", which pieces of textual evidence are you referring to when you say they are not strong enough?)


I see what you mean, but I don't see it as hypocritical: there is no way, in my opinion, that this royal decree can apply to female-line descendants of previous Kings of the Belgians (due to the interpretation of the word "King" in article 1). The court decided it was unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of timing (meaning "the timing of when the parentage was established"), but among the people to whom this royal decree applies (for example, according to their interpretation, Delphine and the other children of King Albert II, and, potentially, an imaginary out-of-wedlock child of King Philippe, who would be later acknowledged, and his other four children).

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that discriminating between descendants of the current and previous kings is not discrimination on the basis of timing of when parentage was established?


Thanks for your answer on that point, as it wasn't clear to me

Thank you too for explaining your opinion so clearly and reasonably.
 
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We simply disagree on whether the judges would be practicing (a) or (b) if they were relying on the reasons you proposed. (I say "if" because the published excerpts of the judgment do not even mention the question of why they did not confer titles on people other than Delphine and her children, let alone explain the judges' thought process behind it, so we are forced to make educated guesses. Realistically, I suppose it is a possibility that they never even bothered to think about it.)

You did read well what I wrote, and that's indeed the point we disagree on.

Out of curiosity, since I'm not sure if you have read through other discussions about the "restrictive interpretation", which pieces of textual evidence are you referring to when you say they are not strong enough?)

To me, the wording "Princes and Princesses, children and grandchildren, issuing in direct descendance from King Albert II" (article 2, and the wording is the same in article 1) is contradictory and open to different interpretations: one certainly can argue that the reference to "Princes and Princesses" restricts those eligible to bear royal titles to the living people who already had them at the time the Royal Decree was issued, but to me it's not irrational to point out that, since the Royal Decree doesn't mention any further requirement (about timing, or birth in wedlock), other than being "children and grandchildren of King Albert II", in the moment Delphine became Albert's legal daughter, she and her children automatically became eligible under article 2. On the other hand, it would be completely irrational, for me, to interpret the word "the King" in article 1 as a reference to anyone other than but King Philippe and his successors


I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that discriminating between descendants of the current and previous kings is not discrimination on the basis of timing of when parentage was established?

I understand I might have not been very clear. There certainly is a difference of treatment between female-line descendants of current and previous kings: female-line grandchildren of, for example, Albert I and Leopold III were not given Belgian royal titles at birth because their mothers-due to discriminatory laws in force at the time-couldn't pass them to their children. Then, the law changed. But, the new law didn't apply to them (and, as I explained, to me the 2015 Royal Decree clearly doesn't apply to them, due to the interpretation of the word "King "in article 1), so yes, there's a difference of treatment, which is, however entirely justified on the basis of laws. The judges who ruled in Delphine's favour (who most likely didn't even think about descendants of previous kings) argued that, since (according to them) there was nothing in legal texts that justified a different treatment of Delphine if compared to her half-sibilings, it would have been unconstitutional to deny her and her children titles ("without an objective criterion or reasonable justification"), while, for me, it emerges clearly from legislation that female-line descendants of previous kings are barrred from having royal titles, and it is a reasonable justification (the law doesn't apply to them) and objective criterion (they don't meet the criteria established by the royal decree) for their different treatment (also, if the royal decree had any further specification abour timing or birth-in-wedlock, I imagine Delphine wouldn't have received titles)
 
When I referred to textual evidence for the intended meaning of the "the Princes and Princesses" clauses in the various decrees, I was referring not just to the possible meanings of the words themselves (which I agree are ambiguous), but the logic of how the decrees were constructed (just like you used the existence of Articles 2 and 3 in the 2015 decree to deduce the intended meaning of "the King" in Article 1, and I agreed with your inference) and the historical record illustrating how the decrees were written and applied in the past (for example, the post I linked to earlier on how the "the Princes and Princesses" clause was interpreted restrictively with the 1840 decree and Louise's son), which I think, when put together, clarify the ambiguous words.

I've discussed some of the textual evidence across various posts in the previous thread, but should I ever be able to find the time, I plan on making a more complete post about it. It may not convince you, but if I ever write it, I hope you will read it and tell me what you think.


Regarding your clarification: Yes, you're right, the court judgment did not say it was always unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of the timing of parentage, only that it is unconstitutional when there is no "objective criterion or reasonable justification". Thanks for the correction.

To decide otherwise would be to create a discrimination, or a difference in treatment without an objective criterion or reasonable justification, between the children and grandchildren in direct descent from King Albert II depending on the moment at which their filiation with King Albert II was established, which would violate articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution.​

So, if I am understanding you correctly, your argument is that the interpretation of "the King" in Article 1 does provide an "objective criterion or reasonable justification" to discriminate based on the timing of when (for example) Esmeralda's children versus Delphine's children's filiation as grandchildren of a King was established.

Good to know that I am not the only one who suspects the judges didn't even think about the issue of how their ruling should or shouldn't be applied to people other than Delphine (and that also goes for other illegitimate children of other Belgian noble fathers).
 
So, if I am understanding you correctly, your argument is that the interpretation of "the King" in Article 1 does provide an "objective criterion or reasonable justification" to discriminate based on the timing of when (for example) Esmeralda's children versus Delphine's children's filiation as grandchildren of a King was established.

Good to know that I am not the only one who suspects the judges didn't even think about the issue of how their ruling should or shouldn't be applied to people other than Delphine (and that also goes for other illegitimate children of other Belgian noble fathers).
Sorry for the delay in my answer! Yes, I do indeed think that the interpretation I provided of article 1 establishes an objective criterion to justify the difference of treatment.
As for the last part: their ruling can't apply to other people, per definition. We're talking about an ordinary (civil) court which operates in a civil-law country. Judges rule on the basis of the plaintiff's claims, and only on that (in this case, they ruled on Delphine's demands, not on anybody else's) : their rulings have effect only for the parties in the judgment (Inter partes), not towards other people, not even for judges who should, in the future, be confronted with similar cases, as precedent is not legally binding. The court is no lawmaker, and can't change in any way, for example, the nobiliary law, as it's not within their competence : it could be, on the other hand,declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, or be spontaneously reformed by the lawmaker.
 
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