The prince... and glam­orous wife who re­fuses to be­come a pau­per

In Lux­em­bourg, an ac­ri­mo­nious di­vorce puts a royal at log­ger­heads with his ‘gold-dig­ger’ wife

Irish Independent - - News -

ON Fri­day morn­ing, just as on any other day in Lux­em­bourg City, an air of calm un­der­state­ment reigned over the Grand Du­cal Palace.

To passers-by, the sprawl­ing old town com­plex – a 16th cen­tury Flem­ish Re­nais­sance de­sign that serves as the pri­mary res­i­dence of Grand Duke Henri, the tiny coun­try’s head of state – bore few royal flour­ishes and even fewer signs of life. Cur­tains were drawn tightly. A lone cer­e­mo­nial guard paced. Tourists took self­ies.

There didn’t seem much hap­pen­ing, which is pre­cisely how the court of the Grand Du­cal likes it. You see, in Lux­em­bourg, per­haps more than any­where else in Europe, royal busi­ness is done with­out draw­ing at­ten­tion to it­self.

That, at least, was the case, un­til an in­creas­ingly ac­ri­mo­nious di­vorce got in the way. Over re­cent weeks, the quiet fa­cade of the Grand Du­cal has been placed un­der rare strain – and spot­light

– by the sep­a­ra­tion of the Grand Duke’s third son, Prince Louis, and his wife of 11 years, Princess Tessy, which is cur­rently be­ing dragged through the Lon­don courts.

She has been dubbed a “gold-dig­ger”, ac­cused of step­ping up her pub­lic ap­pear­ances and glam­orous so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­ity in an at­tempt to make the most of her fi­nal few months as a princess. He has been ac­cused of smear­ing her name, af­ter a “dis­gust­ing char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion” in a na­tional mag­a­zine.

It’s all very unLux­em­bour­gish, and de­spite ev­ery­thing com­ing to a head in the UK’s Royal Courts of Jus­tice ear­lier this month, it doesn’t look any­where near fin­ished.

Through­out their re­la­tion­ship, the prince and princess have never quite fol­lowed tra­di­tion. They are thought to have first met in Kosovo in 2004, when the prince, then 18, was serv­ing in the Lux­em­bourg army and the princess, a year older, was the only fe­male sol­dier in a United Na­tions peace­keep­ing bat­tal­ion.

A year later, their re­la­tion­ship was made pub­lic by Grand Duke Henri’s an­nounce­ment that she was preg­nant with his first grand­child, and that she and the prince were to marry. A son, Gabriel, was born in 2006, and the cou­ple mar­ried later that year in a small cer­e­mony in Gils­dorf, a town in the north-east of Lux­em­bourg.

At the time, the prince had not fol­lowed fam­ily pro­to­col for ar­rang­ing a wed­ding, so the mar­riage was mor­ga­natic – mean­ing his suc­ces­sion rights were lost and his wife and son took the sur­name ‘de Nassau’.

As the daugh­ter of a roofer, the princess was both the first Lux­em­bour­gish bride and the first ‘com­moner’ to marry into the Grand Du­cal fam­ily.

Tra­di­tion­ally, Lux­em­bour­gish roy­als tended to up and out for their spouses, of­ten plump­ing for other Euro­pean roy­als. That sys­tem has cre­ated a wicked web: Grand Duke Henri’s first cousin is Philippe, King of the Bel­gians; his sis­ter, Princess Ma­garetha, is mar­ried to Prince Niko­laus of Liecht­en­stein; jolly Har­ald V of Nor­way, mean­while, was their mother’s first cousin.

A be­sot­ted grand­fa­ther, how­ever, Grand Duke Henri gave his daugh­ter-in-law her own ti­tle in 2009: of­fi­cially mak­ing her Her Royal High­ness, Princess Tessy of Lux­em­bourg and her sons – a sec­ond, Noah, was born in 2007 – princes.

The young fam­ily moved to the town house they still share in Kens­ing­ton, west Lon­don, send­ing the boys to an English board­ing school. Both par­ents com­pleted two de­grees at uni­ver­si­ties in the city be­fore bal­anc­ing jobs with phil­an­thropic work.

Any “scan­dal” is not due to the split it­self.

De­spite the fam­ily’s strong Catholic faith, the prince and princess are not the first Lux­em­bourg roy­als to di­vorce, nor the first to have had a child out of wed­lock, so when their in­ten­tion to sep­a­rate was an­nounced by the fam­ily in Jan­uary, the na­tional re­ac­tion regis­tered some­where be­tween a shoul­der shrug and an eye­brow raise.

Yves, a news­pa­per seller based near the palace, was closer to the shrug end of the scale. “This is Europe in 2017 – peo­ple fight, peo­ple grow up and apart, peo­ple di­vorce... th­ese two just hap­pen to be mem­bers of the Grand Du­cal fam­ily.”

What did cause ran­cour, was what came next.

“[The princess] was a lit­tle bit too much and too of­ten in the pub­lic eye,” con­fides a royal cor­re­spon­dent. “De­signer dresses, ex­pen­sive ho­tels... this kind of be­hav­iour is not liked by peo­ple in Lux­em­bourg.”

Though the princess’s name has al­ready been scrubbed from the Grand Du­cal’s of­fi­cial web­site, she con­tin­ues to be ad­dressed as HRH for ap­pear­ances at con­fer­ences, such as the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Dubai this week – a mat­ter that is irk­ing roy­al­ists.

Her ti­tle has dis­ap­peared from In­sta­gram, where she now de­scribes her­self as a “So­cial En­tre­pre­neur, Mother of Two gor­geous Princes, Direc­tor, UN Am­bas­sador for Young Girls, Pa­tron and much more[sic]”; rather more pro­saically, she is de­scribed as co-direc­tor by DS-48, the se­cu­rity ser­vices firm for which she works in Mill­bank Tower.

In court in Lon­don this month, the princess was said to be fight­ing for a set­tle­ment more ‘com­men­su­rate’ with her in-laws’ sta­tus as roy­alty from the world’s wealth­i­est coun­try (by GDP, but still) than she had been of­fered.

The cou­ple’s Kens­ing­ton home is also dis­puted.

Back in Lux­em­bourg, mean­while, the court­room events sparked a par­tic­u­larly vi­cious at­tack in one red-top, ‘Pri­vat’, ask­ing whether the princess was a ‘gold-dig­ger’ and con­clud­ing she would ‘al­ways be the daugh­ter of a roofer’, not a princess. In fact, her fa­ther is now said to teach ar­ti­sanal car­pen­try. So there.

The prince’s aides have been ac­cused of hav­ing threat­ened to drag the case out “for years” if the princess did not set­tle; a charge the prince him­self had an­grily de­nied in court. (© Daily Tele­graph, Lon­don)

This kind of be­hav­iour is not liked by peo­ple in Lux­em­bourg

Princess Tessy and Prince Louis in June 2013. Photo: Getty

Grand Duke Henri

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