As Princess Maria Laura of Belgium prepares to marry her British investment banker fiancé William Isvy in Brussels, her nuptials become the latest Belgian royal wedding. There’s a short history of modern royal weddings in Belgium: only four have occurred since 1980.
Today, let’s look at the previous Belgian royal weddings to see if we can find any hints at what’s to come.
Princess Astrid and Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este
Princess Astrid is the only daughter of King Albert II and Queen Paola and was the first of their children to marry. Her groom was Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este. The royal couple married at the Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon in Brussels on 22 September 1984.
Princess Astrid wore a very ‘80s wedding dress created by Belgian designer Louis Mies paired with her mother’s antique lace veil – the Ruffo di Calabria veil – that has also been worn by Queen Paola, Queen Mathilde and Princess Claire. Unlike other royal brides, Princess Astrid did not wear a tiara, instead choosing a floral wreath to dress up her hair.
Upon her marriage, Princess Astrid became Archduchess of Austria-Este as Lorenz was the grandson of the last Austrian Emperor and head of the house of Austria-Este. In 1995, King Albert II granted his son-in-law the title of Prince of Belgium.
The royal couple have five children together; in addition to Princess Maria Laura, who was born in 1988, they have Prince Amedeo (born 1986), Prince Joachim (born 1991), Princess Luisa Maria born (1995), and Princess Laetitia Maria (born 2003).
King Philippe and Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz
The current King of the Belgians married a Belgian noblewoman named Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz on 4 December 1999 after a very private courtship; the announcement of their engagement surprised many.
The royal couple were married in early December 1999 at Brussels Town Hall for their civil ceremony and at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula for their religious ceremony.
Becoming the first Belgian-born woman to marry into the modern Belgian Royal Family, Mathilde kept up with the nationalism by choosing a Belgian-born designer for her wedding dress: Edouard Vermeulen of Natan, still one of her main designers over 20 years later.
Given the colder climate, Mathilde’s dress featured long sleeves and a tall neckline to mimic the design of a winter coat. She paired her dress with a loaned tiara and veil from her mother-in-law, Queen Paola, wearing the Queen Elisabeth Diamond Bandeau Tiara over the Ruffo di Calabria veil.
After their marriage, the couple were known as the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, and they have four children: Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant (born in 2001); Prince Gabriel (born in 2003); Prince Emmanuel (born in 2005); and Princess Eléonore (born in 2008).
Prince Philippe succeeded his father in July 2013, and the couple became King and Queen of the Belgians. Their eldest daughter, Princess Elisabeth, will be Belgium’s first queen regnant.
Prince Laurent and Claire Coombs
The controversial youngest son of King Albert II and Queen Paola married a British-born Belgian woman named Claire Coombs on 12 April 2003.
The royal couple were married at Brussels Town Hall in a civil ceremony, while their religious ceremony was held at the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula. Claire’s wedding dress was designed by Edouard Vermeulen of Natan; it was a sleek off-shoulder lace gown that was paired with the Ruffo di Calabria veil and anchored by a delicate floral diamond tiara purchased especially for her by her new in-laws.
Claire was a land surveyor prior to her marriage, and although she has no officially defined role and does not typically carry out engagements like her sisters-in-law, she holds a few patronages and supports causes, including Belgian-British organisations and those raising awareness for animal rights and environmental causes. She typically attends family gatherings, though living with the effects of a long COVID has meant that she hasn’t been as highly visible in recent years.
The couple have three children: Princess Louise (born in 2004) and twin sons, Prince Nicolas and Prince Aymeric (born in 2005).
Prince Amedeo and Elisabetta Maria Rosboch von Wolkenstein
Maria Laura’s older brother was married on 5 July 2014 to his Italian fiancée Elisabetta Maria Roscboch von Wolkenstein, known as Lili, in a ceremony in Rome.
Elisabetta worked as a journalist prior to her marriage. Her wedding gown was designed by Valentino. It was an ivory point d’esprit concoction with lace and tulle elements and anchored by the Queen Elisabeth Diamond Bandeau Tiara and a point d’esprit veil that measured five metres long.
The royal couple were married at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome in the presence of members of the Belgian Royal Family, Austrian and Italian nobility, and moved to Belgium to live. The couple have two children: Archduchess Anna Astrid and Archduke Maximilian Joseph, born in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
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