Thursday, February 14, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Wedding of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa

It's Valentine's Day! And thus time for the second edition of our mini look back series, today it is the wedding of the Grand Ducal Couple we are looking at.

Engagement day: the couple with their parents as well as Prince Henri's sisters
It took Luxembourg by surprise when on 8th November 1980 then minister of state Pierre Werner announced the engagement of Hereditary Grand Duke Henri to Maria-Teresa Mestre, daughter of José Antonio Mestre y Álvarez and Maria Teresa Batista y Falla.

Nothing was known about the relationship between the heir to the throne and the Cuban-born Swiss citizen who had met four years earlier. The couple had met while attending the University of Geneva where both had earned degrees in political science earlier that year.

Hereditary Grand Duke Henri had given his future wife made of gold with a cabochon ruby, similar in the looks department to the ring his father had given his mother on the occassion of their engagement.

The wedding portrait

The couple chose February 14th as the date for their big day. As they told reporters later on, they did not know that this day was actually Valentine's Day. This might sound strange to some ears but in fact Valentine's Day still isn't as big as it is in other parts of the world and it certainly wasn't very well known in the early 1980's. A more important factor was actually an upcoming state visit and the couple was given the choice whether they wanted to marry before or a few weeks after; they decided that they did not want to wait any longer and so February 14th it was.

On so on an icy, sun clear Saturday morning, the wedding bells rang as the wedding of the heir to the throne went underway. Before the religious wedding at the Cathédrale Notre Dame, Hereditary Grand Duke Henri and Maria Teresa Mestre tied the knot civilly at the palais grand ducal. The wedding were officiated respectively by Camille Polfer, former mayor of the city, and by Jean Hengen, then archbishop of Luxembourg. Four officiating kings and queens and no less than 700 official guests had been invited to the wedding.

On the occassion of her wedding Mlle Mestre became a Princess of Luxembourg, a royal highness and was to be styled as the Hereditary Grand Duchess.

With the choice of her wedding dress designer, the new Hereditary Grand Duchess sparked a trend within the family as both her new sister-in-laws would also opted for Balmain for their dresses about a year later. The fur-trimmed gown featured intricate patterns all over the dress.

For the occassion she borrowed the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara from mother-in-law, it was the same tiara that Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte hat worn for her wedding. She wore diamond earrings that she lend to her own daughter-in-law Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie for her wedding last year.

Photo: Cour grand ducale / Guy Wolff
Parts of the wedding dress were recut into a new outfit for Our Lady of Luxembourg, Comforter of the Afflicted and given to the statue on the occassion of the wedding of the couple's oldest child Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume in September last year.

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