© Grand Ducal Court, Lola Velasco, 2017
In our ongoing series on Luxembourg's Royals, RTL Today delves into the history of the Grand Ducal family.
Princess Claire of Luxembourg, née Claire Margarete Lademacher, was born to an affluent German family on 21 March 1985 in Filderstadt, Germany.
Her father Hartmut Lademacher is a former IBM executive and founder of LHS Telekommunikation whose fortune has been valued at around €600 million. The software multi-millionaire owns several castles in Croatia and France, as well as the Chateau les Crostes winery in Lorgues, France, which Princess Claire currently runs with her husband Prince Félix.
Claire's mother Gabriele Lademacher works as a consultant for organisations in the arts sector and has worked with museums such as the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Princess Claire has an older brother called Felix, just like her husband.
Princess Claire on her wedding day with her parents on the left and her new royal family on the right. / © Grand Ducal Court, Guy Wolff, 2013
Claire spent her early childhood in Usingen, a town in the Hochtaunus district of Germany. The town of Usingen was founded more than 1,200 years ago and used to be the royal seat of the House of Usingen-Nassau. The current head of the Nassau dynasty is none other than Princess Claire's father-in-law, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau and Prince of Bourbon-Parma.
After attending primary school in Germany, Claire and her family moved to the US. The Lademachers settled in Atlanta, Georgia. While her father grew his business in the US, young Claire attended the Atlanta International School, one of the city's foremost private schools.
College Beau Soleil in Switzerland. The school as several notable alumni including several members of the Grand Ducal family, Princess Marie of Denmark and Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. / © En08sijp
In 1999, the Lademacher family returned to Claire's native Germany. She attended the Frankfurt International School in Oberursel before moving to the College Beau Soleil boarding school in Switzerland for the last two years of her secondary education. It was here that Claire first met her husband-to-be Prince Félix. She graduated in 2003, completing her English A-Levels and even winning a prize of excellency for her achievements.
Beauty and brains
After her 2003 graduation, Claire Lademacher started her academic journey in earnest. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Communication from the American University of Paris in 2007.
Before embarking on her master's degree, Claire gained some professional experience at Condé Nast Publications in New York and in Munich, where she worked for Vogue magazine. She also worked for IMG World in Berlin for a while.
Princess Claire at an event organised by the "Luxembourg Transplant" organisation on International Organ Donor Day (21.10.2018). / © Paul Foguenne
After this excursion into the professional world, Claire decided it was time for a bit of a occupational reorientation. She continued her academic career - but this time in a completely new field. Claire enrolled at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome where she studied bioethics alongside her husband-to-be Prince Félix, who earned his master's degree in 2013. During her studies, she was also working for the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights as a researcher and event coordinator. Claire earned her master's degree in bioethics with with the distinction "summa cum laude".
Her academic career went from strength to strength and Claire eventually completed her doctorate on the ethical aspects of consent for organ donation in Rome. She has since worked as a guest researcher at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at the University of Georgetown in Washington D.C. and as a visiting professor at the Faculty for Bioethics at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome.
Only last year, Princess Claire took part in the "Ethics in Action" conference on "Modern slavery, human trafficking and access to justice for the poor and vulnerable" at the Pontificia Academia Scientiarum in Vatican City. Due to her specific expertise in the field, Princess Claire is a also patron of the LuxTransplant Organisation.
Successful wife, successful life
With an impressive career in academia under her belt, Claire Lademacher is a powerhouse in her own right. Her exceptional drive and intelligence might well have been some of the qualities that first attracted Prince Félix to her. As Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa's second eldest son, he is currently second in line to the Luxembourgish throne.
The pair met in 2001 at the College Beau Soleil boarding school in Switzerland and soon became fast friends. This strong friendship would later become the basis of their relationship.
The young couple are very popular with the Luxembourgish public as they are seen as genuinely down to earth and relatable (despite their considerable wealth). / © Grand Ducal Court, Private Collection
Almost 12 years after meeting at College Beau Soleil, the happy couple announced their engagement on 13 December 2012.
As is tradition, the couple were legally married in the bride's native country. The civil ceremony was held on 17 September 2013 in Königstein im Taunus, Germany, close to Claire Lademacher's home town of Usingen.
A religious ceremony was held four days later at the Basilica of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France. The venue was chosen because of the couple's love for the Provence. Prince Félix and Princess Claire had often spent spent their holidays in the south of France, accompanied by friends and family.
The bride wore a delicate yet heavily embroidered wedding gown designed by Ellie Saab. Her veil was anchored with the Diamond Vine Leaves tiara, perhaps hinting towards the couple's first big endeavour together: Taking over management of the Chateau les Crostes winery in Lorgues, France.
On her wedding day, Claire Lademacher officially took on the title of HRH Princess Claire of Luxembourg, Princess of Nassau. This not only made her a Princess of her husband's native country, but also of the region where she was born. Close to 400 guests were invited to the religious ceremony in the south of France.
After the wedding, the happy couple settled down in the Provence region in the south of France. Princess Claire and Prince Félix took over the management of her father's vineyard and the couple is still actively involved in the daily business at the Château Les Crostes winery in Lorgues.
© Olivier Polet, 2015
Almost a year after her wedding, Princess Claire gave birth to a healthy baby girl at the Grand Duchess Charlotte maternity ward in Luxembourg City on 15 June 2014. Princess Amalia Gabriela Maria Teresa was named after her two grandmothers: Princess Claire's mother Gabriele and Prince Félix' mother Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.
On 28 November 2016, Prince Félix' and Princess Claire's son Prince Liam Henri Hartmut was born in Geneva. He too was named for his grandparents: Grand Duke Henri and Princess Claire's father Hartmut Lademacher.
© Grand Ducal Court, Lola Velasco, 2017
Prince Liam was baptised in the Vatican, close to where his parents studied during their university days. The baptism was very much a family affair: Prince Liam's uncle, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, even showed off his guitar skills during the service.
Today, the picture-perfect family lives in Germany.
Sarah Cames is a twentysomething freelance journalist with a keen interest in anything to do with politics, history and pop culture.