Sunday, October 1, 2017

You Go, Girl: (Kinda) In Defense of (Princess) Tessy

You know, when I first thought about writing a post, it all sounded very different in my head to what I will likely put on paper in the paragraphs to come. Somehow, the issue discussed seemed small in comparison to what feels more important – to me anyway.

For those not familiar: Over the past few days there has been a discussion over on Twitter on the titles of the woman who is or was Princess Tessy of Luxembourg, a discussion fueled by a (not so) private Instagram post of her's that we were asked about over on Twitter. Concerning her name and title: Neither of us royal watchers knows for sure what her current name is as there has never been an official announcement about her divorce from Prince Louis being finalised. For the record: If she still is Princess Tessy of Luxembourg, it means that her divorce from Prince Louis hasn’t been finalised yet. If it has been finalised, she does not have a title based on the Bylaws concerning the House Law of the Grand Ducal Family. It is not a matter of my opinion, but a matter of facts. The House Law clearly states, "In case of a legal separation, a divorce or remarriage after death, the wives lose the style and title conferred upon them."

As Tessy's road to princesshood wasn't the traditional path, we asked the cour back in February about the matter and they agreed with us replying that Tessy does in fact fall under the ordinary rules "following the grand-ducal decree from June 18, 2012, [...] a spouse (by marriage) loses, in case of divorce, her titles and predicates [style]". The cour also stated in a later reply that they were not able to comment on her name post-divorce yet (and we stood corrected about the moment the change came into effect). You know, if you are a regular reader here, you will already now: I - and I think I say that I can speak for my co-bloggers, so we aren't actually much of gossip girls but more factual Fräuleins

I'm just a stickler for facts and the little things. You know, royal news and weddings and births and clothes and tiaras - they are all interesting and I enjoy them, but they are not what has kept interested in royalty for all these years. They are a gateway to something much more interesting: History and the big and small mechanisms that have made monarchy work over all these years into the 21st century. 

One thing that has always bothered me about royal past and present though is how a woman is often defined by who she is married to. We know way less about your average or even stellar woman in world history than we know about the men. And to this day, there are still a few monarchies who won't even call a woman by her own name in her title. Princess Michael of Kent. Lady Nicholas Windsor. Seriously? Can't you frigging call a woman by her own name, Great Britain? And don't get me started on the Archiduc et Archiduchesse Carl-Christian d'Autriche in French. I know it's tradition and I'm not the kind of person who says that a woman shouldn't take her husband's name because it is a sign of a patriarchal society and it makes her lose her own identity but not even her first name? Come on!

And somehow the whole discussion around Princess Tessy's titles reminded me of that. Tessy was 20 when she married Louis and her whole adult life, she was defined by being her husband's wife, not least by the handling of the cour. Heck, it took them seven - I repeat: seven - years to finally introduce an own biography section of her's on their website (and only after Félix and Claire married). I wouldn't blame Tessy if she even started to define herself by that. She entered the family in an unconventional way and she was suddenly thrust into a limelight and a lifestyle she wasn't used to. At 20, we are still trying to figure us out and most people who knew at that age have no clue what to do with their lives at that time. Even though I didn't (and still don't) always agree with what she did/does, said/says and handled/handles things, I always rooted for Tessy and Louis. I always wanted them to prove the naysayers wrong and those who said they were doomed from the start. I do not believe that a marriage is a failure because you decide to divorce. Sometimes putting an end is even the more difficult step than to just go on. 

For better or worse, Louis and Tessy decided to pull the plug and whatever the future may hold for them, it seems to be working out for them right now from the little we know. And it shouldn't matter, what name or title Tessy has now or after her divorce. Yes, being married to Louis is why we know her and why she is featured on this blog, but that doesn't mean that we must define her by it for all eternity. She was 18 when she joined the army and served in the KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo as the only woman in her draft. She has spoken about the tough times she had there but it goes to show that she must have been one heck of a strong woman to begin with. She is raising two beautiful boys, got two university degrees and founded her own charity. She champions various causes including being an UNAIDS Global Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls. Can we please start define her by the amazing work she is doing and not by the fact that she was or maybe still is married to a guy with a title? This may be news to some, but simply having a fancy name and a style and title to go along with it is not a merit and doesn't make anyone a better person. Yes, her marriage to Louis gave Tessy lots of great opportunities, but want to know what is even greater? That she took them and built something not just for herself but to benefit others who are less fortunate.

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