The marriage of Heir Apparent Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stephanie de Lannoy brought together much of Europe’s royalty to one of its smallest states, Luxembourg. A Bourbon-Parma and one of the most eligible bachelors around tying the knot with the bride hailing from the Belgium aristocracy was reason enough to celebrate. And with the ceremony held at the picturesque Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City, the day promised to be one to remember. Grand Duke Guillaume, Heir Apparent to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Countess Stephanie de Lannoy began dating around three years ago, but it was only in April 2012 that the engagement was announced. The wedding marks an important day for Luxembourg, which is a unique nation being the world’s only remaining grand duchy. The duchy’s million or so citizens greeted the news with enthusiasm but sighs of disappointment were no doubt heard across Europe with one of the world’s most eligible bachelors coming off the marriage market! Grand Duke Guillaume is the eldest child of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and his Cuban-born wife Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. His four siblings are Prince Félix, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sébastien. Hailing from the Luxembourg ducal family, a cadet branch of the Bourbon-Parma dynasty, Guillaume is first in line to a family fortune estimated at around £3 billion.
The future Grand Duke was given a suitably impressive education – studying at Lycée Robert-Schumann in Luxembourg; Beau Soleil and Institut Le Rosey boarding schools in Switzerland; and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Camberley, England. In 2006 he entered the Institut Philanthropos in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he spent a year studying philosophy and anthropology and thereafter spent time studying political science at the Institut Albert-le-Grand in Angers. The bride’s family history is also rather illustrious. Stephanie was born on 18 February 1984 in Ronse, East Flanders, Belgium. She is the youngest daughter of Count Philippe de Lannoy and the late Alix della Faille de Leverghem (1941–2012). She has seven siblings. The House of Lannoy’s history is known back to the 13th century nobility of Hainaut and has royal connections. Stephanie’s paternal grandmother, Princess Beatrice de Ligne (1898–1982), was a daughter of Ernest, 10th Prince de Ligne, head of one of Belgium’s most historically powerful families. Stephanie’s maternal grandparents, Harold della Faille de Leverghem and Madeleine de Brouchoven de Bergeyck, were also members of Belgium’s nobility. Stephanie attended the Dutch-language Sancta Maria de Ronse school and then moved to France to continue her education in Collège Saint-Odile. She also studied in Moscow the Russian language and literature. She majored in German philology at Louvain-la-Neuve and earned a master’s degree in Berlin. She also boasts an impressive five languages – French, Dutch, English, German and Russian.
Stephanie and Guillaume are distant cousins, sharing multiple descents from the Austrian field marshal Charles Marie Raymond, Duke of Arenberg (1721-1788). But the age of blueblood marriages has on the whole come to an end and by marrying into the Luxembourg ducal family Countess Stephanie is one of only two consorts of European crown princes who belong by birth to the nobility. The other being Crown Princess Mathilde of Belgium nee Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz. It was a pleasingly sunny autumn day as Luxembourg City played host to an array of royalty from around the world. After the guests had taken their seats in the Notre Dame Cathedral the wedding party arrived. Grand Duke Henri was the first, accompanied by Lydia de Schaetzen, the bride’s late mother Countess Alix de Lannoy’s sister. Soon after, the groom arrived wearing a very dark blue dress uniform, accompanied by his mother, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. The bride’s arrival brought gasps of admiration. The bridal gown was a stunning ivory creation by Elie Saab with three-quarter length sleeves in lace, a veil in silk tulle and a 4.5 meter train. To complete the look Stephanie had chosen to wear the tiara of the Lannoy family. The tiara was made by Altenloh of Brussels and is traditionally worn by brides from the House of Lannoy. As she made her way down the aisle, Stephanie was escorted by her oldest brother, Count Jehan de Lannoy. A touching scene unfolded as brother and sister walked to the bride’s wheelchair bound 90 year-old father Count Philippe. At which the Count, with assistance, stood up and formally offered his daughter’s hand to the Hereditary Grand Duke. The ceremony started with a minute of silence in honour of the bride’s recently deceased mother, Countess Alix de Lannoy. After the wedding readings, the bride and groom took their vows. To be much more personal than a typical royal wedding, Guillaume and Stephanie read their wedding vows to each other. Both families are devoutly Catholic and a full mass followed bringing the total time of the ceremony to an hour and a half before the couple made their way back down the aisle. (Extract from Royalty Magazine Vol.22/09)