Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stéphanie's First Solo Engagement

The Hereditary Grand Duchess together with Pierre and Anni Rossy of Schroeder Joalliers
(Photo: Guy Wolff / Luxemburger Wort /
At what point a new(-ish) princess does her first solo engagement without her hubby, mother-in-law or some other family member by her side always is of quite an interest for many royal watchers. Well, now the wait in Luxembourg's case is over: Probably a little lost in all the trade mission news during the week before last, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie had her first solo engagement when she visited the Uchihara luxury jewellery store in Tokyo to view and promote their section of Schroeder jewellery.

Schroeder Joalliers was established in 1877 by Lambert Schroeder, who had left Luxembourg during the second half of the 19th century and settled in Chicago where he did an apprenticeship but returned to his home country after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. While run by the second generation of the family, the jeweller became a purveyor to the Grand Ducal Court in 1920 and remains so to this day.

Though they are probably most famous for their watches (which I bet many of the male members of the Grand Ducal Family wear), Schroeder has also created and adjusted jewellery for at least three generations of grand ducal ladies including Grand Duchess Charlotte, Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa over the past almost 100 years. For example, they revised the Emerald Art Deco Tiara by Chaumet in recent years prior to a state visit by the sovereign couple. In addition, they also manufacture orders such as five or six crosses and badges of the Order of the Oak Crown each year.

Now run by the fifth generation of the Schroeder family, Pierre Rossy, and the sixth generation, his daughters Sophie and Anni, also working for the company, Schroeder Joalliers also has a workshop in Paris in addition to its headquarters in Luxembourg's Grand-Rue. The company has expanded heavily during the past few years. Pieces by Schroeder are now also being sold in China, Japan, Russia and the Arab world in addition to several European countries.

Doing her first solo engagement shortly before her second wedding anniversary places Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie pretty much right in the middle of the time it took the European heirs' and newly married rulers' wives of the last decade and a half to firstly venture out of their palaces and castles on their own.

The quickest of all of them was Princess Charlène of Monaco who did her first solo engagement a week after her wedding while still on her honeymoon. Together with her husband she was in South Africa, where Prince Albert attended an IOC meeting, when she flew alone to Noordhoek, Cape Town, and participated in a press conference with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to discuss the charity "The Giving Organisation" (of which they are both co-patrons) five days after her wedding.

Also pretty quick off the blocks were Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who did her first solo engagement on June 14th, 2004, exactly one month after her wedding when she attended the National Pony Championships in Jutland, as well as the the Duchess of Cornwall, who visited the Southampton General Hospital on May 23, 2005, while her wedding to the Prince of Wales took place on April 9.

In difference, it took the Duchess of Cambridge about half a year before attending her first solo engagement while standing in for her father-in-law who was at a funeral in Saudi Arabia. On October 26, 2011, the Duchess hosted a charity cocktail reception for "In Kind Direct", a patronage of the Prince of Wales, at Clarence House. She was famously married on April 29, 2011.

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands' (at the time still Princess Máxima) first solo appearance, a visit to the Meuse County Hospital in the province of Sittard, occured on August 16, 2003, around 18 months after her (02/02/2002) wedding to the then Prince of Orange.

Coming in seventh place is Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg who had her first solo engagement very recently on October 10, 2014, two years minus eleven days after her civil wedding on October 19, 2012. (Or one year and 355 days if you want to count from the religious wedding a day later.)

Following the Hereditary Grand Duchess in the ranking is Queen Letizia of Spain. The then Princess of Asturias made her first appearance sans her husband, mother-in-law or any other family member accompanying her on October 9, 2006, about two and a half years after her wedding, which took place on May 22, 2004. For her first solo engagement Queen Letizia visited the Pozuela de Alarcon School.

The presumed next on the list is Queen Mathilde of the Belgians. I say presumed because we think that the former Duchess of Brabant's first solo engagement occured in May 2002 as part of the Belgian delegation to a United Nations conference on children, at least according to the information we could locate online. This would be around three years after her wedding which took place on December 4, 1999. [Edited to add: Queen Mathilde's first engagemnt was in fact much earlier, a social visit on February 29th, 2000 to be exact. Many thanks to Jelka of Modekoningin Mathilde for the information!]

Of the woman marrying the rulers, heirs or heir's heirs of Europe within the last one and a half decades, it took Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway the longest time to do her first solo engagement. She married the Crown Prince on August 25, 2001, and did her first solo engagement in January 2005 when visiting Malawi on a charity trip about three and a half years after tieing the knot.

A quick note to end this post: I probably do not need to tell you that we do not take responsibility for the correctness of all the dates mentioned above. Of course we used the utmost care to locate all the correct dates for the first solo engagements of the ladies mentioned above, however, it is entirely possible that one them slipped through our hands. All the information was gathered from painstaking research all over the internet. A very special and huge thank you in this regard goes to Lea, who did the great majority of research going into this post!

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