Wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy
The engagement of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy was announced on 26 April 2012. The couple had know each other since 2007 and had been a couple for three years; however, the relationship was a well-kept secret and was received with general surprise.
The date for the wedding was soon decided: 19 October 2012 for the civil ceremony, and the day after for the religious wedding. Countess Stéphanie attended some events along with her future family, so as to get accustomed to public life. She seemed to be a natural with the people. She also followed an intensive course to learn Luxembourgish. On 26 August 2012, however, Countess Alix de Lannoy, mother of the bride-to-be, passed away unexpectedly. The couple decided not to postpone the wedding, but the Countess would be commemorated during the religious ceremony.
A couple of weeks before the wedding, controversy arose about the nationality of the bride. The Palace had submitted a request to Parliament to pass a bill which would allow Stéphanie, who had the Belgian nationality, to have the Luxembourg nationality as soon as she was married to the heir to the Luxembourg throne. The law, however, states that Luxembourg nationality can only be given when someone has been living in Luxembourg for some seven years, which is why a special bill had to be passed. Some politicians took this opportunity to stir some trouble, but in the end the bill passed without problems. Afterwards, Stéphanie announced that she would give up her Belgian passport.
Reception at the Grand Théâtre
The festivities of the day began with a reception for some of the Luxembourg people at the Grand Théâtre in Luxembourg, to which not only representatives of several youth associations were invited, but also many young people from Luxembourg: couples who also got married that same weekend, people who were born on the same day as the bride or groom, and classmates of Guillaume.
The Hereditary Grand Duke and his fiancée attended the reception. He gave a speech in Luxembourgish, in which he told the guests that he was very happy to be getting married in a couple of hours. After that the couple mingled with the guests.
In the afternoon, Prince Guillaume and Countess Stéphanie, accompanied by members of the Luxembourg Royal family and the de Lannoy family, walked from the Grand Ducal Palace to the City Hall, where the civil wedding would be officiated. Many lined the streets, and the couple and their family waved happily. They were in very good spirits and even exchanged some jokes with the mayor of Luxembourg city, Xavier Bettel, who officiated the ceremony.
Stéphanie wore a smart white Chanel suit, and was very relaxed. The Luxembourg royal ladies all were dressed in shades of gold.
The civil wedding ceremony was officiated in both Luxembourgish and French, both being official languages in the Grand Duchy. The mayor, in his speech, referred to the “complicity” between the two, just as Stéphanie and Guillaume glanced at each other with complicit looks – to which the mayor said “exactly, just like that…” The ceremony continued in the same relaxed, semi-formal style. The couple made their vows, and sealed the civil wedding with a kiss.
When they left and returned to the Palace, again on foot, they took ample time to greet the crowds, accept the many gifts, shake hands, and pose for pictures. This accessibility is almost unknown for a Royal wedding.
It was the first time the heir to the Luxembourg throne went to the City Hall for their civil wedding. Tradition would have dictated the civil wedding be officiated at the Grand Ducal Palace, but the couple insisted on getting the same treatment as anyone else in Luxembourg.
On the evening of 19 October 2012, a gala dinner was hosted by the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess at the Grand Ducal Palace.
Among the many guests were monarchs and royals from around the world. Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Morocco and Monaco were represented, but also the former monarchies of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Italy.
Grand Duke Henri gave a moving speech before the dinner started. To Stéphanie, he said
We welcome you on this day with overwhelming joy. We know that, through your sensitivity, your intelligence and your devotion, you will bring great happiness to our son. The fact that you have already endured the most difficult of ordeals, notably the sudden passing of your beloved mother, has shown us that you are capable of strength and courage in the face of adversity.
For his son he also had some words of advice.
Your wife shall be, as your mother is for me, steadfast in her support of the difficult but oh so rewarding tasks which await you. Yes, my dear Guillaume, we are proud of you, you are a man of duty and your guiding principle is the common good. We have every confidence in your judgement, but remember too that we shall always be there to support you and help you if you so desire.
Read the entire speech here. After that, the guests toasted to the health and happiness of the couple.
Both Princess Stéphanie and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa had chosen dresses by Elie Saab for the event – and they were not the only ones he dressed either! Many among the guests had chosen one of his designs. Princess Stéphanie wore, for the first time, a tiara from the Luxembourg family vaults: the larger floral tiara from the collection. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa didn’t bring out the big guns for the occasion (aka the Imperial Diamond Tiara) but chose the lighter Chaumet tiara.
The religious ceremony took place on 20 October 2012. Guests started to arrive at the Cathedral in Luxembourg city from 9 am onwards. The many royals who had been invited to the gala dinner also attended the church wedding. For a full guest list, see here.
The brothers of the groom arrived at about 10.40 am, soon followed by the last and most important royal guests. Then Grand Duke Henri arrived, escorting Lydia de Schaetzen, sister of the deceased mother of the bride. They were soon followed by Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume.
The pages and flower girls arrived. The children were dressed in blue and orange, the colours of the House of Nassau. They were all nephews and nieces of the bride and groom: Prince Gabriel of Nassau (6), Countess Caroline de Lannoy (11), and Countess Louise de Lannoy (9) Isaure (9) and Lancelot (5) de la Court, and Madeleine Hamilton (11). They were kept in check by the bridesmaids, Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg, sister of the groom, and Antonia Hamilton, niece of the bride. Both girls were dressed by Natan.
Then, finally, the bride arrived, escorted by her eldest brother, Count Jehan de Lannoy, who took the place of her father, who is wheelchair-bound. The party walked up to the Cathedral and down the aisle, where Guillaume (and all the other guests of course) was waiting.
Before taking her place in front of the altar, Stéphanie walked up to her father, who had stood up from his wheelchair to give his youngest daughter his blessing. It was an emotional moment for them.
The couple took their place in front of the altar, and the Archbishop welcomed everybody in Luxembourgish, French and English – a nice touch for all those foreign royals in the front rows. The service started with a minute’s silence in memory of Alix della Faille de Leverghem, the mother of the bride who had passed away only a couple of months before.
The late Countess Alix was remembered in other ways as well. The statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral, where the wedding bouquet will be placed later, was adorned with her wedding veil, and Stéphanie is wearing her mother’s engagement ring.
Although Stéphanie didn’t cry, she seemed very restrained for the first half of the ceremony, nothing like the laughing and relaxed woman of the day before at the City Hall, so it is likely this touched her deeper than she had foreseen.
After the wedding vows, however, she smiled a lot more. They read their wedding vows to each other and exchanged rings. The intercessions were read in several languages: in Luxembourgish, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch and English.
After the ceremony, an actual Catholic Mass was celebrated, at the end of which the Nuncio read a papal message from Benedict XVI for the couple, and then blessed the couple in the name of the Pope.
After the final blessings and the singing of the National Anthem, the registry was signed by the married couple and their witnesses. Guillaume’s witnesses were Prince Félix, his brother, and Lawrence Frankopan, a very good friend. Stéphanie’s witnesses were Baroness Blanche von und zu Bodman, née de Mérode, and Princess Louise of Stolberg-Stolberg, two very close friends.
The dress was designed by Elie Saab. It took 3,200 hours of embroidery, and 700 hours of sewing. The dress contained some 40 metres of Calais lace, 30 metres of satin organza and 70 metres of tulle. It has a 2.5 metre train. A second train covers the first and measures 4.5 metres. The dress is lined in silk-crèpe. 15 metres of silk tulle were used for the veil which measures 5 metres. The dress contained some 50,000 pearls and 10,000 metres of silver thread.
The tiara was the Lannoy family tiara, a dainty piece with a history going back to the late 1800s. The tiara was made by Altenloh in Brussels. Ernest Altenloh, son of a silversmith, created the company in 1878. The tiara is composed of 270 old-cut brilliants set in platinum, with a diamond in an inverted pear shape superimposed in the centre. A dozen larger brilliants stand out owing to their closed sets, appearing like buttons along the patterns of leafed scrolls. The contours of the tiara, traced by the arrangements of the stones, are underlined by a thin line of platinum gilded pearls. This tiara was also worn by Stéphanie’s sisters and sisters-in-law at their weddings. In doing so, however, she broke with the Luxembourg tradition of wearing the Congo Necklace/Tiara on her wedding day, as Joséphine-Charlotte, her daughters and Maria Teresa had done before her.
The wedding bouquet of trailing white flowers was created by Maison Lachaume, Parisian Master florists since 1845. The bouquet will be placed at the feet of the statue of the Virgin Mary, Consoler of the Afflicted. The bride’s make-up was taken care of by Bouzouk, and her hair had been styled into a chignon by famous Parisian hairdresser Tom Marcineau of the Maison Carita.
While the couple returned from the Cathedral to the Grand Ducal Palace, 101 cannon volleys were fired in their honour.
There was a reception at the Grand Ducal Palace for the guests after the church wedding, and of course the obligatory photo shoot. But first, the couple appeared on the balcony to greet the cheering crowds. They kissed each other passionately, not just once, but three times, and so passionately that Stéphanie’s lipstick smudged…
The couple was joined by their family for a moment, then they all retreated inside to pose for the official wedding portraits.
In the evening, there were fireworks in the city, in the honour of the married couple, as well as two concerts: one by singer-songwriter Selah Sue, and one by the group Funky P.
The couple also turned up at the fireworks display, where they – again – took the time to greet the crowds. After that, they returned to the Palace, from whence they drove to Chateau Berg, where the Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess will celebrate their wedding privately, with some close friends and family.
All photos were released by the Grand Ducal court for editorial use. All rights reserved.