Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Luxarazzi 101: Grand Ducal Weddings (Part 1)

To pass the time until the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy, we are going to look back on some Grand Ducal weddings gone by. Of course it wasn't always an heir to the throne who would tie the knot but beautiful dresses and glittering jewellry were never far away when there was a wedding in Luxembourg (or sometimes even abroad).

For lack of photographic evidence of earlier weddings, we start what probably was the grandest of all grand ducal weddings as it was a Grand Duchess herself that walked down the aisle. A few months after the ascended to the throne, Grand Duchess Charlotte married Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma on November 6th, 1919. Prince Félix was one of the 24 children of Duke Robert of Parma and his second wife Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal and thus brother of the Austrian Empress Zita. Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Félix would go on to have six children, two boys and four girls. Grand Duchess Charlotte ruled until 1964 when she abdicated in favour of her oldest son the then Hereditary Grand Duke Jean. Aged 76, Prince Félix died in 1970, Grand Duchess Charlotte died in 1985 aged 89. Had she not abdicated, she would have reigned for a total of 66 years and 173 days.

Born in 1899, Princess Antonia was the fourth daughter of Grand Duke William IV. and his wife Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal and thus the younger sister of Grand Duchess Charlotte. Shortly before the end of World War I, Princess Antonia got engaged to Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. Despite criticism regarding the close ties between the Grand Ducal family and German royalty amongst the public as Luxembourg was occupied by German forces at that time, the two married on April 7th, 1921 at Hohenburg Castle. The couple had six children. In 1939 they were forced into exil to Italy and Hungary as they were strong opponents against the Nazi regime. In 1944, Princess Antonia and her children were captured when the Nazis occupied Hungary and imprisoned at Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. After being liberated in 1945, the princess died nine years later in Switzerland due to poor health.

Just a few days later on April 12th, the youngest of the daughters of Grand Duke William IV., Princess Sophie, married the youngest son of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony and his wife Archduchess Luise of Austria, Princess of Tuscany, Prince Ernst-Heinrich. The couple had three sons. Princess Sophie died in 1939 because of pneumonia.

Princess Elisabeth, the fifth daughter of Grand Duke Guillaume IV., married Prince Ludwig Philipp of Thurn und Taxis, fourth child and son of Albert, 8th Prince of Thurn and Taxis and his wife Archduchess Margarethe Klementine of Austria, on 14 November 1922 in Bavaria. The couple had two children, a son and a daughter, before Prince Ludwig Philipp died in 1933 aged 32. Princess Elisabeth died in 1950.

Princess Hilda, the third daugther of Grand Duke Guillaume IV., married Czech Adolph, 10th Prince of Schwarzenberg on October 29th, 1930. The couple had no children. The Prince was an outspoken opponent of the Nazi regime refusing to replace his Czech workers with ethnic Germans and having "Jews welcome" signs put up at his palace gardens in Vienna after all other public gardens for closed for jews by the Nazis. Prince Adolph and Princess Hilda spent most of the Second World War in the United States, the couple wanted to return to Czechoslovakia but their property was confiscated by the new communist rule after it had already been seized by the Nazis. They eventually went on to live in Austria and Italy, where Prince Adolphe died in 1950. Princess Hilda died in 1979 at the same castle she was born, the Château de Berg in Luxembourg.

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