Little Luxembourg puts on big royal wedding show
Luxembourg's Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume kisses his wife Princess Stephanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, on the Grand Ducal Palace balcony after their religious wedding in Luxembourg on Saturday. (Reuters)
The population of Luxembourg shifted dramatically upwards this weekend as the crowned heads of Europe descended on the small nation for a royal wedding.
The union of Prince Guillaume and Belgian countess Stephanie de Lannoy at Notre Dame cathedral was as grand an affair as this country of 510,000 inhabitants has seen, complete with the now almost mandatory kiss on the palace balcony.The groom is the 30-year-old heir to the throne and a lieutenant-colonel of the 900-man army that protects this country wedged between France, Germany and Belgium.
The 28-year-old bride wore a gown designed by Lebanon's Elie Saab, with three-quarter length sleeves and a silk tulle veil that flowed out to a four-metre train.
Princess Stephanie is the youngest of eight children from an long-time aristocratic family. She endeared herself to the native population by taking part of the wedding vows at the Catholic ceremony in Luxembourgish.
The guest list included Britain's Prince Edward and the Duchess of Wessex, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, and Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel.
After the church ceremony -- which was preceded Friday by a civil cermony -- thousands made their way to the Grand Ducal Palace, where the couple made their grand entrance on the balcony, playfully looked like they'd just met each other, and indulged the crowd after cries of "A kiss! A kiss!" Fireworks and street parties followed, adding up to a $650,000 wedding gift from the Luxembourg taxpayer, according to AFP.
While the mood was generally festive, it was viewed by some as low-key, and not everyone was happy having dig into tax dollars, or that Princess Stephanie has been given a quick route to becoming a citizen.
"The world is watching us," said Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker. "We aren't going to overdo it, but we mustn't make ourselves smaller than we are."
The couple have been engaged since April, after a three-year courtship. Prince Guillaume, heir to the throne of Grand Duke Henri, and his bride Stephanie are part of a royal family that engages in largely ceremonial roles in the country.
They both bring impressive educational backgrounds. The prince speaks four languages, studied internationl politics and has taken up several humanitarian causes. Stephanie's official biography says she speaks French and German, studied languages at the University of Louvain in Belgium, and apparently reads three books at a time.
Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg and Prince Guillaume Of Luxembourg walk the aisle after their wedding ceremony at the Cathedral of our Lady of Luxembourg on Saturday. The 30-year old Guillaume is the last hereditary Prince in Europe to get married. (Grand-Ducal Court of Luxembourg via Getty Images)
Princess Victoria of Sweden, Princess Mary of Denmark, Princess Mette Marit of Norway and Prince Haakon of Norway attend the wedding ceremony of Prince Guillaume Of Luxembourg and Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg at the Cathedral of our Lady of Luxembourg on Saturday. (Getty Images)
Spain's Prince Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia leave the Notre-Dame cathedral of Luxembourg after the religious marriage of Crown Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg and Belgian countess Stephanie de Lannoy. (Getty Images)
In this handout image provided by the Grand-Ducal Court of Luxembourg, Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg and Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg pose with Royals Luxembourg, Grand-Duke, H.M. Queen Fabiola,Grand-Duke Jean /Grand-Duchess Maria Teresa, Crown Grand-Duchess of Luxembourg, Grand-Duke Henri, The Count de Lannoy, 2nd row - left to right : Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, Reigning Princess of Liechtenstein, H.M. Queen of Sweden, King of Norway, Queen of Norway, Prince Consort, Queen of Denmark, Queen of the Netherlands, King of Belgians, Queen of Belgians, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, 3rd row - left to right : Prince Hassan of Jordan, Princess Sarvath of Jordan, Princess of the Asturias, Prince of the Asturias, Crown Prince of Japan, the Countess of Wessex, Princess of Hanover, Prince of Orange of the Netherlands, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, 4th row - left to right : Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes,King Constantin of the Hellenes, Crown Princess of Denmark, Crown Prince of Denmark, Duchess of Brabant, Duke of Brabant,Crown Princess of Norway, Crown Prince of Norway, Crown Princess of Sweden, Prince Daniel of Sweden, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, 5th row - left to right: Prince Radu of Romania, Crown Princess of Romania, Princess Tessy, Prince Louis,Princess Alexandra, Prince Felix,Prince Sebastien, Queen Margarita of the Bulgarian, Simeon II of the Bulgarian for an official photo in of the Grand-Ducal Palace.