Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Interview with Guillaume and Stéphanie de Lannoy

As most of you are probably most aware, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and his soon to be wife, Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy, gave an interview to the Luxembourg's print media. Tonight there will be an interview with broadcaster RTL (have a look here for a little preview) and on Saturday Belgian RTL will have an interview with the future husband and wife.

The English version of Wort has an article about the interview, as a few things weren't mentioned, I'm going to translate the German interview.

First of all, Countess, tell us how you met the Hereditary Grand Duke!

Stéphanie: For the very first time we met eight years ago in Germany when we were introduced by friends. We both spent a weekend there. We didn't see each other for a long time after that until we met again a few years later by accident. I knew a few cousins of Guillaume's and then three years ago we met again in Germany. That's where and when we fell in love.

Do you believe in Prince Charming?

Stéphanie: I think I have found him. (Smiles.) That Guillaume really is a prince did not really matter to me. After I got to know Guillaume, I said to a friend - who will also be my witness at the wedding - that I met an extraordinary person, I could share so much with. I wouldn't have thought that two persons could go together so perfectly. Yes, I did find my Prince Charming.

How did you manage to keep your relationship under wraps for so long?

Guillaume: Our families are very discrete and the Luxembourgish press always respected our private life.

Stéphanie: We are lucky! When you look at other countries and what goes on there, I don't think it is easy to build a solid ground for a relationship. If the attitude of the press would change here, it wouldn't change that the ground of our relationship is already there.

Monseigneur, can you tell us anything about your proposal?

Guillaume: (Laughs.) I hope you understand that that's a little too private. One thing I can say: She said YES. (Laughs again.)

Stéphanie: I knew that Guillaume would ask me one day. But I hadn't expected it when he did it.

Guillaume: We waited quite some time before we made our relationship public. I asked Stéphanie whether she wanted to marry me only three weeks before the engagement was announced.

The last royal weddings were very well publicised. What are the plans for your big day?

Guillaume: We want something that is typically Luxembourgish. We want the public to take part in our wedding, in- and outside of the church. That's our wish.

Do you have any impact regarding the decisions about your wedding?

Guillaume: We are both very involved. Of course there is a protocoll we have to consider, but there's room for our own wishes. We chose the lections for the mass, we also had a word about the music and we were able to invite our friends.

Countess, you wear two rings...?

Stéphanie: I wear the engagement ring of my mother, that I will also wear on my wedding day. My mother [who died a few weeks ago] will be present during the service. The ring, a scarf of my mother's that will be draped around a statue of Virgin Mother and we will be begin the service with a minute of silence for my mother.

You're wedding will be broadcasted around the world. Are you anxious about that?

Guillaume: Indeed it will be an international event. It will be a beautiful moment for us and also an opportunity to show Luxembourg to the world. It's obvious that we will be nervous but the day itself will be our day. We will try to keep as much distance as possible from the cameras and photographers.

Stéphanie: Of course it isn't a wedding like any other. But in the end there are Guillaume and I, who will tie the knot. I don't think I will notice the cameras. I will only have eyes for Guillaume, my father, my family and my close friends.

Will there be a bachelor's party?

Guillaume: I don't know the details but I know that something is planned.  My brother and a good friend are organising a surprise party...

Stéphanie: ...I know the details but I'm not allowed to say anything. (Laughs.)

Will there be a honeymoon? Where will you go?

Stéphanie: This time it's the other way around. Guillaume knows all about it. There is a tradition in my family that the groom organises the honeymoon and I'm looking forward to the surprise.

Guillaume: I can reveal that we will go straight after the wedding celebrations are over. (Laughs.)

There is a lot of talk about the costs of your wedding. Does that annoy you?

Guillaume: I can understand why people are complaining, though one has to keep in mind that our wedding is also an act of state and that we have many guests from abroad. It's a matter of repesenting Luxembourg and that brings certain costs with it. Only a few guests will be invited to the reception on Friday evening after the civil wedding. All of this is representation and an act of state.

There was also quite some critique about you, Countess, gaining the Luxembourgish nationality so quickly? Do you understand those who complain?

Guillaume: I do understand those who complain. A lot of foreigners had to wait for a long time and I understand that it is not easy for them to actually get a Luxembourgish passport. Stéphanie, too, had to learn Luxembourgish, she understands it already and is starting to talk. One has to keep in mind that through the wedding she will become the Hereditary Grand Duchess. Thus, it is very important that she has the Luxembourgish nationality.

Stéphanie: I understand the discussion, although it makes me a little sad that some people do not understand that me gaining Luxembourgish citizenship isn't a privilege but a particular case because of the person who I marry. I regard it is a gift that only makes sense when you look at my future duties as the Hereditary Grand Duchess.

Will you take up dual citizenship?

No! I want to make clear to it is an honour for me to become a citizen of Luxembourg. It is a very special present from the Grand Duchy and as the future Hereditary Grand Duchess, I'm very proud to gain my husband's nationality. I will be honoured if the Luxembourgers accept me as a representative. Belgium will always remain the country of my childhood, it's where my roots are. But in my opinion, it is not compatible with my new role to remain a Belgian citizen.

How do you see your role as husband a wife?

Stéphanie: I want to lead a normal family life. I want to go to the grocery store myself and I want to cook myself. Actually, that's a mutual hobby for us, Guillaume likes to cook as well. I also want to concentrate on representing Luxembourg.

Guillaume: As you know, I accompany business delegations. It's one of my duties that is close to my heart. In the future Stéphanie will accompany me. Stéphanie also wants to focus on social matters, I think that will only help the country.

What are your concrete plans, Countess?

Stéphanie: I think I would like to focus on social isolation. A lot of people feel lonely, not only older people.

What will be your first major event after the wedding?

Guillaume: At the end of November, there will be an economic mission to China and Stéphanie will accompany me.

You both come from families with lots of children. How do your future plans look like?

Stéphanie: Four, five children are a lot in today's world, to have eight children is very rare. But it was the wish of my parents and as the youngest child, I am, of course, very happy because otherwise I wouldn't have been born. Though to be honest, eight children is a bit much. Nevertheless I would like to keep the tradition up to have a family with many children.

Guillaume: It's a gain to grow up with many siblings. We don't have an exact idea how many children we would like. The future will show.

Would you like to have your own family in the near future?

Stéphanie: That's a good question. I suppose, it depends how you define "near future". Within the next three years, yes. It's not a priority but it is important to us.

Have you decided yet where you will live after your wedding?

Guillaume: It's clear that we want to be independent. We won't live at Château de Berg, I haven't been living there for quite some time but of course it will be in Luxembourg. We won't reveal more at this point in time.

Is it hard for you Countess to learn Luxembourgish?

Stéphanie: I understand the language very well, but I have some difficulties speaking. Schéi Sprooch, schwéier Sprooch… [It's like a saying and would translate to 'Beautiful language, hard language'] I was 18 when I learned German and now I'm 28, it's getting more difficult to learn a new language.

[You can listen to Stéphanie speaking a little Luxembourgish here]

Countess, you lead a life public didn't take any interest in. Since your engagement that has changed. How did you prepare for that? Are you a bit anxious?

Stéphanie: When I met Guillaume and when we got to know each other, I didn't think about it that much. But in the last couple of months we often talked about it. I don't have any fears, but I'm affected. I will try to prepare as good as possible for my future responsibilities. I know that Guillaume will always be on my side, so that's calming.

How do you managed to be so self-confident?

Stéphanie: I always had people around me who were older. I'm the youngest in my family. My parents always were very much involved in my life, but I also had a lot of freedom. That might be the explanation.

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