A few hours after saying yes to the mayor of Brussels, it was before the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and before God that Princess Maria Laura of Belgium reiterated her commitment to William Isvy. After a civil ceremony in a small committee, the religious wedding at the Cathedral of Saints-Michel-et-Gudule had all the splendor expected of a royal wedding.
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First royal wedding at the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula in almost 20 years
This Saturday, September 10, 2022, Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, 34, was married civilly, in the morning, then religiously, in the afternoon, to William Isvy, 30. The eldest daughter of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz therefore offers the first marriage in the Belgian royal family since 2014. That year, it was Prince Amedeo, elder brother of Maria Laura, who united with Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein.
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Prince Amedeo’s wedding had taken place in Rome. The last marriage of a member of the royal family at Brussels Cathedral dates from 2003. Prince Laurent, uncle of Maria Laura, married Claire Coombs in 2003.
Princess Maria Laura, 9th in the line of succession to the Belgian throne, absolutely wanted to celebrate her wedding in Belgium, although she resides in London with William. Maria Laura lived in China and then moved to London where she works as a climate change analyst with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
It was with great emotion that Princess Maria Laura arrived at the cathedral on the arm of her father, Archduke Lorenz, grandson of the last Emperor of Austria. Archduke Lorenz, received the title of Prince of Belgium from his father-in-law, King Albert II, in 1995. In addition to her title of Princess of Belgium, Princess Maria Laura inherited titles from her paternal family. Princess Maria Laura is therefore Archduchess of Austria-Este, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Princess of Modena.
Princess Maria Laura’s dress and tiara
For the civil wedding, Princess Maria Laura wore a short ecru Gucci dress. For the church wedding, the princess wore a bespoke Vivienne Westwood dress. She also wore the veil of her maternal grandmother, Queen Paola, and the tiara of her paternal grandmother, Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta.
Queen Paola celebrates her 85th birthday the day after the wedding. Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta died aged 91 in January 2022. The princess wanted to pay tribute to her two grandmothers. The veil was also worn by her mother, Princess Astrid, and by her aunts by marriage, Queen Mathilde and Princess Claire.
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A Catholic wedding punctuated by Jewish songs
The aisles of the cathedral, which accepted up to 500 guests, were barely enough to seat the bride’s hundreds of cousins. On the maternal side and on the paternal side, Princess Maria Laura is cousin to all the European royal families as well as many former reigning families.
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The religious ceremony led by the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Mgr Jozef de Kesel, lasted a little over an hour and was different from those to which the Belgian royal family had accustomed us. Due to the groom’s background, the Catholic ceremony was punctuated with Jewish songs. William Isvy was born in Paris to a British Jewish mother and a Franco-Moroccan father. The young man spent most of his childhood in London and then studied finance in Montreal, Canada. He now works in the asset management industry.
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Five relatives were called to testify during the religious service. A friend of the couple, Ferdinand Brunet, spoke, as well as Elisabetta Rosbosch von Wolkenstein, wife of Prince Amedeo, brother of the bride.
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Among the royalty who have been chosen as witnesses are two cousins of Princess Maria Laura. Prince Josef-Emanuel of Liechtenstein and his sister, Princess Marie-Astrid, showed their affection to their cousin during the ceremony. They are nephew and niece of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, himself a first cousin of King Philippe and Princess Astrid.
The fifth witness was Princess Napoleon. Princess Napoleon, born Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg, descendant of King Louis III of Bavaria and Emperor Charles 1 of Austria by her mother, is the first cousin of Princess Maria Laura, daughter of Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este. Archduke Lorenz is the brother of Archduchess Marie-Beatrice, mother of Countess Olympia. Olympia married Prince Jean-Christophe Napoleon, current head of the Bonaparte family, in 2019. Prince Napoleon is a distant cousin of his wife and a cousin of Princess Maria Laura.
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The Belgian royal family at the religious wedding of Princess Maria Laura
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were present at the wedding, along with their four children: Crown Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Éléonore. King Albert II and Queen Paola could not miss the wedding of their eldest granddaughter, despite the difficulty for the former sovereign to climb the steps of the cathedral.
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Prince Laurent, the bride’s uncle, was present with his wife, Princess Claire, and their three children: Princess Louise and the twins, Princes Aymeric and Nicolas. Of course, the siblings of Maria Laura were in full at his side. Prince Amedeo, eldest son of Astrid and Lorenz, was present with his wife, Elisabetta Rosbosch von Wolkenstein, who was chosen as the bride’s witness. Amedeo and Elisabetta’s two young children had a part to play. Little Archduchess Anna Astrid, 6, was one of the children of honor and Archduke Maximilian, who turned 3 a few days ago, was a little page.
Maria-Thereza Droste zu Vischering von Nesselrode, Aurora and Eulalia Peters were the other children of honor. The last little page was Alvaro d’Orléans-Bourbon.
The royal family had also invited Delphine of Saxe-Coburg, Princess of Belgium, half-sister of King Philippe, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent. Delphine was accompanied by Jim O’Hare, and their children, Princess Josephine and Prince Oscar. We also saw Princess Léa, widow of Prince Alexandre of Belgium, and her sister-in-law, Princess Esmeralda.
Queen Mathilde wore a Natan floral print dress and the same pink hat she wore to Prince Laurent and Princess Claire’s wedding. Princess Astrid wore a green Gucci outfit with feather sleeves. Princess Luisa Maria wore a dress from the Alémais brand. Princess Elisabeth wore a CH Carolina Herrera red fringed cape dress and Fabienne Delvigne’s red Laurany hat. Princess Éléonore wore a More Couture mint green dress. According to Jelka Van Duyse, Princess Claire wore a Natan dress and her daughter, Princess Louise a pink Rodarte dress.
The month of September brings back good memories for Astrid and Lorenz. On September 22, 1984, Princess Astrid married Archduke Lorenz, son of Archduke Robert of Austria and Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta. Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz had chosen the Notre-Dame du Sablon church in Brussels, a more modest building but linked to the Habsburgs, the family of Archduke Lorenz. A relic of the last emperor Charles 1st, grandfather of Lorenz, is even inside this church.