This is part 2 of my memories of the wedding of the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple, two years ago now. In the first part you could read about my experiences at the day of the civil wedding, which included, for me, a handshake with the couple and a magnificent view of Europe's royals in all their finery arriving at the Palais Grand Ducal for the gala dinner.
In this piece I'll write about the day of the religious wedding! Beforehand I thought this would be the real big day, but after day one, I thought that nothing could top that day!
Saturday October 20, 2012
After a night's rest and early breakfast at my hotel, I packed my bags (no problem, I travel light), checked out and walked the short distance to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. After noticing the day before that spectators seemed to turn up last minute, I figured that being at the cathedral around 8am would be early enough. I was right, although I must say that this time around, there already were quite a number of people waiting. I found myself a very nice spot, near the beginning of the red carpet.
Not bad, right? And then, the waiting game! It was three hours before the ceremony would start, but quite some time before that the guests would arrive, so the waiting actually wouldn't be that long. Meanwhile, I talked to some people (many Dutch and Flemish people) and enjoyed the sun because the weather was extraordinarily beautiful for October. I could also watch the press arrive and the guard of honour got lined up as well.
Some green mini busses arrived from time to time with the first guests though I didn't recognize any of the people getting off. It was still quite early, most royal guests would arrive a lot later. I got a bit worried though, many of those buses stopped exactly in front of me, so they blocked my sight for a big part. These buses are killers for royalty watchers! I really hoped that this wouldn't be the case when the more prominent guests would arrive.
I saw some Habsburgs arrive - Archduchess Marie-Astrid's kids, for example - but they walked by very quickly. As I couldn't take a decent picture of them while walking by so fast, I didn't bother.
Then a huge bus stopped: indeed, exactly in front of me! I did have a good view of Crown Prince Alexander II and Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia though.
The next few minutes were very frustrating: Guests were leaving the bus, I heard the press and people getting more excited but I could not see a thing! I figured that the bus must have contained many members of the non-reigning families, like the Badens, the Vendômes and the Prince of Prussia among others. Bummer. I really wanted to see some of them as I had never cought a glimpse of them before. When the bus drove away, I could only see Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine walking the red carpet as well as some of the Bulgarian royals, the Prince of Preslav and his sister-in-law the Princess of Turnovo. The Yugoslavian couple always seems to enjoy attending European royal events and this time was no exception, they waved enthusiastically to the people and didn't hurry down that red carpet!
You will notice that my pictures are not of the highest quality. As I wrote earlier: I only have a simple camera but when I'm zooming in, it can take pretty good pictures. I didn't zoom in though as it takes time and everything goes by so quickly. So I simply hold the camera over my head, click many times and in the meantime I can take it all in myself, with my own eyes. For top quality pictures I can buy magazines or search for pictures on the internet, but really getting into the moment and the excitement is more important to me. And as you can see, you still get pretty nice pictures in the end.
But back to what was going on: More mini busses! This time, however, I was lucky, they didn't completely block my view. I saw Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, Archduke Lorenz and Archduchess Astrid (Princess of Belgium) of Austria-Este, their son Archduke Amedeo and Prince Laurent and Princess Claire of Belgium arrive.
And then a bus with the siblings of Grand Duke Henri and their spouses:
Archduke Carl Christian of Austria with his wife Marie-Astrid, born Princess of Luxembourg.
Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein with Princess Margaretha, born Princess of Luxembourg.
To the left, Prince Jean of Luxembourg and his wife Countess Diane of Nassau.
And at last the missing sibling arrived, Prince Guillaume with his wife Princess Sibilla and their children, Prince Paul-Louis, Prince Léopold, Princess Charlotte and Prince Jean:
It was nice to experience that the excitement was growing. The next mini bus contained the European heirs to the throne, plus the Japanese Crown Prince. Their arrival caused quite a sensation for both public and press. I saw: Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium, the Prince and Princess of Asturias and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.
The three heirs to the Scandinavian thrones and their spouses in one picture.
The heirs the the Spanish, Belgian and Dutch thrones and their wives - two years laters and they are all kings and queens now.
After all the cheers and excitement of the arrival of the heirs to the throne, a long string of escorted cars began to arrive. I was a bit surprised that Crown Princess Margarita and Prince Radu of Romania stepped out of the first car. Why weren't they in the big bus with the Yugoslavians, Bulgarians and all the other members of non-reigning families? They aren't former reigning sovereigns either... Well, those are thoughts for royal die hards only I guess!
The coming and going of escorted cars continued and they brought the crème de la crème of royal Europe to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame...
Caroline, Princess of Hanover, Hereditary Princess of Monaco. Well known over the whole world, she was greeted very loudly.
Prince El Hassan bin Talal and Princess Sarvath of Jordan. They walked by very quickly.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex, the usual representants of the British Queen at continental European royal weddings.
The Hereditary Grand Duke's brothers and sister-in-law: Prince Félix, Prince Louis, Princess Tessy and Prince Sébastien.
King Simeon II and Queen Margarita of the Bulgarians.
They hardly ever miss a royal event: King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes.
Princess Lalla Salma, wife of the King of Morocco.
The first of the reigning sovereigns to arrive: Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein with Princess Marie.
The crowds gave Queen Silvia of Sweden a warm welcome.
The groom's great uncle and great aunt: King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians.
King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway who are rather close family as well: King Harald is a first cousin of the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.
Greeted with loud cheers: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Then the hightest ranking guest arrived: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark with Prince Henrik.
All the royal guests had arrived! It was fantastic to see them all go by. Next to arrive: Grand Duke Henri with Mrs. De Schaetzen, aunt of Princess Stéphanie and sister of Stéphanie's mother, who, as we know, had passed away two months before.
Then the day's groom arrived together with his mother Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and the crowds went wild!
The arrival of the bridesmaids: Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg (sister of the groom) and Antonia Hamilton (niece of the bride), followed by the bridal children
The big moment was there: the arrival of Princess Stéphanie! The bride was being escorted by her eldest brother, Count Jehan de Lannoy.
That was quite a royal experience! But what next? Waiting the entire service at the same spot to watch everyone leave the cathedral? Or going to the Palais for the balcony scene? But maybe I couldn't get there anymore? Maybe the limited space before the balcony was already packed with people? If that was the case, I would better stay where I was... Quite a dilemma! In the end, I left, hoped for the best and went to the Palais.
When I arrived I saw that there were very few people! I could have known it, judged by the day before. Great! I walked a little more: no need to stay near the Palais as it would be no problem to see the balcony scene. I went to the Knuedler where the wedding service was being broadcasted on a big screen. As you can see on the picture: there were people, but it was not very crowded. The contrast with the London wedding a year earlier couldn't be bigger. But let's be honest: you can't really compare. The most important thing was that the atmosphere which was great.
After buying something to drink I decided to wait until the balcony scene would begin. It didn't get crowded until almost the last minute (is this a Luxembourgish thing or something?). While waiting and looking at the Palais, I spotted a little boy behind one of the top windows (according to the Luxarazzi ladies it's one of the little Counts de Lannoy).
The service lasted longer than planned, so the balcony scene started later as well. I heard cheers from people right in front of the Palais: I was a little more in the back so I couldn't see, but it was a sign that the couple had arrived and that it wouldn't take long before they would make their appearance on the balcony.
And after some more waiting, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and the brand new Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie finally appeared on the balcony.
Now I had the opportunity to take my time to zoom in with my camera and make some close ups. I'm happy with the results!
And then, according to the relatively new royal 'tradition' started at the 1981 wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales: the kiss!
And another one!
Then the groom's parents, brothers, sister and sister-in-law also appeared.
After the balcony scene was over, I rushed to the train station to catch the train I had planned to catch. Early that evening, I was home!
It had been two amazing days in the beautiful city of Luxembourg. This was an lovely royal occasion: it was a grand affair with a galaxy of royalty attending, but at the same time with all the benefits of taking place in a relatively small city, which made everything very accessible and relaxed. Moreover: the Nassaus are not the Windsors, so this wedding wasn't quite the media spectacle as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which was a very good thing.
I hope you enjoyed reading my pieces. Thanks to the ladies at Luxarazzi for inviting my to write these two pieces about the wedding, it was my pleasure!