Last month, there appeared in the international Press a pleasant, if slightly posed, photograph of the former King of the Belgians, Albert II, his wife, Queen Paola, and his newly reconciled daughter, Delphine Boel. She is now called Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg, Princess of Belgium.
They are obviously socially distancing for reasons of Covid - Belgium has been badly hit - but perhaps, in the circumstances, that is convenient. Delphine is Albert's daughter from an 18-year-old extra-marital relationship and DNA has recently proved the link. But, socially, they hardly know each other as yet.
Delphine Boel, as she was, had a long struggle to force the Belgian king to acknowledge her as his daughter. Her claim first appeared in a Belgian magazine in 1997. This was initially greeted with silence and then resistance.
While Albert was monarch, he had legal immunity from a paternity suit, which Delphine's mother, Sybille de Selys Longchamps, had sought to bring.
But after Albert abdicated in 2013 in favour of his son, Philippe, he lost that legal immunity. Still, he refused to take a paternity test, and continued to refuse until early 2019. It was only when a court threatened to penalise the ex-king 5,000 euros a day if he did not comply that he finally agreed. He complied. The test was positive.
Delphine, aged 52 and a successful artist, also claimed that she was entitled to have the title Princess of Belgium. She won that case, too, and now has full parity of status with her half-siblings, Philippe, Astrid and Laurent (her children will also have royal titles.)
And, suddenly, they were all reconciled. Albert announced that "after the tumult", there would now be healing. Philippe, now king, said that Princess Delphine would be part of the family. Like a case from Long Lost Family, it was all a happy ending. These relationships are often more complicated than they look in family snaps. The acknowledgement and reconciliation would not have taken place without Delphine's persistence and determination.
She was asked at Press conferences if she had pursued her case for money. No, she said: her stepfather Boel was a wealthy man and she had not been deprived of means. What she sought, she said, was to be "validated".
It was the greatest comfort to her that the law had proved her correct. She just wanted the same rights as Albert's other children.
There must be questions about why Albert resisted her claim for so long. His personal reputation was not particularly virtuous. He had succeeded his brother Baudouin in 1993, who, by contrast, was regarded as a saintly Catholic - Baudouin recused himself from the monarchy for one day so as not to have to sign a liberal abortion law.
Ironically, in view of Albert's evident fecundity, it was a source of anguish that Baudouin and his Spanish wife, Fabiola, were unable to have children. (I met the French gynaecologist who claimed to have operated on Queen Fabiola for obstructed Fallopian tubes, although the surgery was not a success. A rather intimate detail about a deceased queen, but royal health issues have always been a matter of public scrutiny.)
Back in the day, Albert's wife, the Italian aristocrat Donna Paola di Calabria, was considered one of the great beauties of Europe. No whiff of scandal was ever heard about the lovely Paola.
She was on every continental magazine cover. Albert was thought lucky to marry such a graceful and well-connected wife. His own mother, the Swedish Astrid, had been killed in a car accident in 1935, when he was just one, and had been succeeded by an unpopular stepmother, Liliane.
So: did Albert resist this disclosure about a secret daughter to spare Paola's feelings? Had Paola been aware of his long relationship with Delphine's mother? Wives have been known to tolerate mistresses, but the traditional continental protocol was that the mistress didn't expose the wife to public humiliation.
I was once a companion to a worldly-wise French diplomat's wife who emphasised that: "A man may have his petite amie, but two things must be respected: the status of the wife and children and the inheritance of property."
In recent years, the 83-year-old Paola has not enjoyed good health. It's been formally reported that she has had a stroke and also has heart problems. It has been informally said that she has some cognitive deterioration, possibly linked to Alzheimer's.
In the "reconciliation" photograph with Albert and Delphine, Paola is seen clutching an old brown handbag, strapped around her neck awkwardly, although she is smiling vaguely. She has now been properly introduced to Delphine, but we don't really know what she is thinking or feeling. Kings have had offspring outside of wedlock before - Charles II of England had 19 illegitimate children (and no legitimate heir) and many were given grand titles. But DNA does change the supposition of paternity to proof.
In another social context, the personal stories of single mothers, in the past, might have been very different if the law had had the means of ensuring that men faced their responsibilities as fathers.