Friday, January 10, 2014

Tessy, a Princess All Along?

When we discovered that the cour grand-ducale had uploaded a few new visuals to the section of Prince Louis and Princess Tessy, we also had a look at their biographies as new pictures often also mean biographical updates and right we were. However, the changes brought up a whole lot of confusion because it makes some weird statements that seem to rewrite history.

The French and German version of Princess Tessy's biography now state that upon her marriage in 2006, the former Tessy Antony became "Her Royal Highness Princess Tessy of Nassau" and in 2009  received the titles of Princess of Luxembourg (German and French versions) and Princess of Bourbon-Parma (French version).

Now, especially the first part will come as a big surprise for any follower of the Grand Ducal Family, as in 2006 the cour grand-ducale issued a press release saying that the wife of the third son of the Grand Duke would be plain "Mme Tessy de Nassau" upon her marriage and the couple's thank you card read "Son Altesse Royale le Prince Louis de Luxembourg et Madame Tessy de Nassau..."

On June 23, 2009, the cour grand-ducale issued another press release saying that the Grand Duke had conferred to his daughter-in-law the title "Princess of Luxembourg" and the style "Royal Highness" and that her sons would henceforth be "Princes of Nassau" and "Royal Highnesses" just as the children of any other offspring of a younger son of the monarch. (Unfortunately, we have never been able to locate the decree stating exactly that as even the Grand Duke as fountain of honour can't make title elevations by press release). At no point prior to this date were titles ever used in association with Tessy or her young sons. She was not mentioned as "Princess Tessy of Nassau" in the statement and it was specifically noted that she had only been given the style of Royal Highness on that date. We wonder why it would be necessary to specifically give her the style of Royal Highness in this action if she had received it upon her marriage as indicated in the French and German versions of both her and Prince Louis' biographical sections? It feels entirely too consistent for all of this to be a mere hiccup or the general result of lack of knowledge on the part of one person...

The English version of her biography alone provides the (correct) information that Tessy Antony became Tessy de Nassau upon her marriage and received the titles Princess of Luxembourg, Princess of Nassau and Princess of Bourbon-Parme only on June 23, 2009. The information included in this version of her biography coincides with the statements made in 2006 and 2009 and is, in our view, the most accurate of the three versions related to history of titles associated with Princess Tessy.

While the press release of 2009 did not mention the title of Princess of Bourbon-Parma (de Bourbon de Parme), I'm going to cut the cour some slack here as I could very well imagine that the Bourbon-Parma (and Nassau) title(s) simply appeared as natural consequences of the conferral of the Luxembourg title.

I have no idea why the cour apparently seems to rewrite history in such a manner. They have been terribly inconsistent with titles and such in the past - one example being Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy getting engaged to the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and then marrying the Crown Prince of Luxembourg in the English version of her biography.

After having discussed this matter amongst ourselves extensively for a long time, we also fail to see based on which law Tessy would have become a "Princess of Nassau" back in 2006. At best, she could have been "Countess Tessy of Nassau" in accordance with a decree issued by Grand Duke Jean in 1995 (active at the time) stating that the wives and children of princes who conduct marriages without the consent of the head of the House would be titled as such.

The new biographies also read as if Gabriel and Noah have been princes since the day of their births. This is an especially dubious claim in the case of the older son of Prince Louis and Princess Tessy, who was born prior to the marriage of his parents (no judgement, just a statement of fact). At the same time that it was stated that Tessy would be "Madame de Nassau", it was also said that the couple's first son is "Gabriel de Nassau" without any style or title but with a very illustrious last name. Just like their mother, he and his brother were elevated to rank of "Princes of Nassau" and the style "Royal Highnesses" in 2009.

I also note that Princess Tessy's biography now states that she received the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau in 2010 which is another HUGE surprise considering that Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa only received it shortly before their respective husband ascended to the throne. Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie did not become a member of the Order upon her marriage and as of April last year only had the Civil and Military Order of Merit of Adolphe of Nassau (and we haven't seen her wearing any order since).

If it is indeed true that Princess Tessy was given the highest Luxembourgish order, I dearly hope that Grand Duke Henri also took the time to confer the same honour to his two sisters, Princess Marie-Astrid and Princess Margaretha, and his sister-in-law, Princess Sibilla. Especially Princess Marie-Astrid and Princess Margaretha have rendered decades of service to the Grand Duchy and its people. Even though it goes largely unnoticed these days, both princesses (as well as Princess Sibilla) have a number of patronages and still regularly attend events in relation to these. I fail to see what Princess Tessy, who only took up individual duties together with her husband last year, did to merit this lofty distinction apart from getting married, being discreet and becoming the mother of two adorable princes. I am of the opinion that the royal houses generally give out highest orders amongst themselves too lightly, but at least I hope that the Grand Duke has thanked his sisters and sister-in-law for their years of work in private because it appears as if they are still only given membership of the Civil and Military Order of Merit of Adolphe of Nassau.

On a less confusing and brighter note, we finally know the full name of Prince Noah now, which is Noah Etienne Guillaume Gabriel Matthias Xavier.

Do not take this article to read that we are not in favor of the elevation of Princess Tessy and the young princes. We have always advocated that Prince Louis' wife and children be fully integrated into the Grand Ducal House and Family and accorded styles and titles. We also felt, as readers know, that Princess Tessy receiving her own section on the official website was long, long overdue. It is just that these peculiar changes of history, inconsistencies and inaccuracies are most apparent in the official biographies dedicated to her. We really dislike changes of history, inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

[Update: FYI, changes have been made to the biography since.]


  1. How strange! Maybe they regret not upgrading her before?

  2. But rewriting history when everybody knows the truth won't change that. I also always thought that the whole thing surrounding Louis, Tessy and Gabriel was handled in a very good manner, especially compared to what happened (or did not happen) around the birth of Louis' cousin Marie-Gabrielle who wasn't even acknowledged by the court until after her younger brother was born.

  3. Even sadder in the case of Prince Jean's children when you add that it was roughly 11 years after Marie's birth before they became Count(esse) de Nassau and another 9 or so years after that before they finally became HRH Prince(sse) de Nassau.

    I much prefer they way Henri dealt with the situation than his father but, as you say, pretending they were HRH all along doesn't change what actually happened.

  4. You speak from my heart in relation to Prince Jean's children!! I often wonder what they and their parents think about the matter.

  5. Attempts to rewrite history are indeed quite inappropriate, I concur.

    Reading this article provoked quite a few questions. Would you be kind enough to answer any of them? :) I apologize if I have overlooked their answers elsewhere on the blog.

    1. Did Prince Gabriel bear his father's or mother's surname prior to this parents' marriage?

    2. Is it the norm for Luxembourgish wives to adopt their husbands'
    surnames? If so, is their legal surname normally altered as well?

    3. Is the "de/zu Nassau" surname restricted under Luxembourgish law? That is, must one be related to, or receive permission from, the grand ducal house in order to bear the surname?

    4. Given the provisions of the 1995 decree, why were Tessy, Gabriel, and Noah de Nassau never Countess/Counts of Nassau prior to 2009? Did they receive the comital title in 2009?

    5. Did the press release of 2009 specifically bestow the title of Princess of Nassau on Tessy de Nassau, in addition to Princess of Luxembourg?

    6. Is it possible that Grand Duke Henri simply never issued those elusive decrees? Constitutional strictures notwithstanding, it is not unknown for royal families to elide legal requirements, especially if they are obscure or if the government or populace refrain from objections.

  6. I certainly don't mind answering your questions.

    1. Gabriel and Noah were both born with Louis' surname.

    2. It is common, though not universal, for women in Luxembourg to take their husband's surname. Many ladies also choose to hyphenate the names (eg. Sally Smith marries John Jones. She becomes Sally Smith-Jones). Surnames are legally changed in cases were women decide to take their husband's name.

    3. As far as I can tell, the de/zu Nassau surname is not legally restricted to those who are members of the dynasty.

    5. In the strictest reading of the legal texts (not press releases) available she and Noah would have been Count(esse) de Nassau from marriage/birth; however, these titles were never used for them. It is unclear if the children are legitimated by their parents' marriage under Luxembourgish law and while Gabriel and Noah appear to have the exact same treatment by the family it remains possible that there could be legal distinctions based simply on their births being outside/inside their parent's marriage in relation to titles and memberships in the Family.

    But, to answer the question. No, the comital title was never used for Louis' family as it was for the family of Jean/Robert despite clear legal statutes (1995 decree) stating they should have had these. In 2009 the press release only mentioned the HRH Princess of Luxembourg title for Tessy and the HRH Prince(sse) de Nassau title for their current/future children. No other title was mentioned in the statement.

  7. Thank you very much! I continue to be impressed by the abundance of knowledge of the Luxarazzi team. :)

    On a related note: Does Luxembourgish law mandate that a child take its father's surname?

  8. Thank you very much! I continue to be impressed by the abundance of knowledge of the Luxarazzi team.

    Two additional questions, if you wouldn't mind:

    1. Does Luxembourgish law mandate that a child take its father's surname?

    2. As the 2009 decree did not mention the titles of Princess of Nassau and Princess de Bourbon de Parme for Tessy, what is the legal mechanism by which she would have acquired these titles?

    [Resubmitting because I thought of another question. ;)]

  9. We don't know what the 2009 decree stated as the cour grand-ducale only published a press release which only mentioned the Luxembourg title for Tessy so it's entirely possible that the actual decree (which we can't find via Legilux where you can locate all the other decrees) also mentioned the Nassau and Bourbon-Parma title. Usually, the House Law regulates the use of titles by the Grand Ducal Family.

    To the best of my knowledge, parents in Luxembourg are free to chose whether their child will have the mother's or the father's last name.

  10. I only wish to add that the Pr. de Nassau title has always been associated with the Pr. de Luxembourg title and the Pr. de BP title with the descendants of Charlotte (let's not mention that Jean's now repealed renunciation). Even in the case of Prince Felix, the Pr. Consort he was given the Pr. de Nassau title. I can hardly think of a Prince(sse) de Luxembourg who has not also been automatically a Prince(sse) de Nassau because the Luxembourg and Nassau heritages now rest in the same persons. Even once the Luxembourg title expires in the line the Pr. de Nassau title remains active with no generational limit.

    It is also my view based on all of the supporting documents (even historical ones) that any person who is a Pr. de Lux is also always, without the need for it to be specifically mentioned, Pr. de Nassau. Where one is a Pr. de Nassau they are also Pr. de Bourbon de Parme. (Obviously, the BP title did not apply to Charlotte's sisters but only to Felix' descendants).

    This would only change IMHO by another revision of the HL or if the Luxembourg crown would somehow come to pass outside of the descendants of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix.

    It is clear from the bylaws that the title Duke of Nassau (in my view, now a Luxembourgish title based on Luxembourgish law) is linked to the crown of Luxembourg. Until such time as these two inheritances are legally severed the titles will remain tied together for the monarch and their descendants. Personally, I do not consider it necessary for a decree to mention the Nassau/BP titles if one is giving someone the Luxembourg title. I consider them natural consequences. The stand of the cour/family regarding who has the title leaves me no other option.

  11. An the case of ordinary citizens (those not covered by the bylaws) the parents may choose which name to use. In the case of those who are covered by the bylaws or are born to a parent who is the surname is set by the bylaws.

    The children of a princess who is not heiress apparent or a reigning Grand Duchess will have their father's surname. The children of princes, counts, or a female who is/will become either the reigning Grand Duchess, Hereditary Grand Duchess or other likelihood (the heir's heir) will have the Nassau surname.

  12. Thanks for the elaboration; sorry about the duplicate comment.

    Rather ironic that an ordinary citizen may bear the grand ducal surname, but not the daughter or son of a princess.

    If you won't mind another surname question: I'm aware that the grand ducal family's surname is only used in its French and German forms, but what form would it take if if it were translated into Luxembourgish? "Vun Nassau"? "Vu Nassau"?