© Grand Ducal Court
In our ongoing series on Luxembourg's Royals, RTL Today delves into the history of the Grand Ducal family.
In today's installment of our popular Royals series, we're going to go slightly outside the line of succession and shed a light on the life of Princess Tessy, the estranged wife of Prince Louis.
Tessy Antony was born on 28 October 1985 to François Antony, a roofer, and his wife Régine Antony. Tessy has a twin brother, Ronny, and the two are actually the second set of twins born into the Antony family. Tessy's older brother Mike also had a twin brother called Jerry, but he sadly passed away shortly after birth. She also has an older sister, Patty.
The future Princess of Luxembourg grew up both in the north and in the south of the country. In her childhood years in the north of Luxembourg, she grew up surrounded by nature. The family owned chickens, Tessy cared for litters of kittens and she even had her own cow to look after.
Tessy Antony attended school in Niederkorn, Esch-sur-Alzette and Pétange before deciding to join the military along with her twin brother at the age of only 17. Her father was instrumental in that decision, he encouraged and inspired her to follow in the footsteps of Tessy's older sister Patty who already served at the time. At the age of 18, Tessy was drafted and deployed for the first time, as the only woman in her regiment.
You can listen to Tessy Antony telling the story in her own words in the video below.
Tessy Antony served in a UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and it was during that time that she met her future husband Prince Louis, third son of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, when he was visiting troops in Yugoslavia. After their first meeting in 2004, love soon blossomed between the young couple.
A royal whirlwind romance
About one year after their first meeting, their relationship was made public for the first time when the Grand Ducal Court announced that the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess were looking forward to welcoming their first grandchild. After the September 2005 announcement, there was a big media whirlwind and a rush to find out more about the young servicewoman who had stolen the heart of one of the Princes of Luxembourg.
Tessy Antony gave birth to her first son Gabriel Michael Louis Ronny de Nassau on 12 March 2006 at the Clinique des Grangettes, a private hospital in Geneva, Switzerland. Prince Louis was only 19 when his 20-year-old girlfriend Tessy Antony had their first child. As the couple was not married at the time, the child was not given any royal titles.
About six months later on 26 September 2006, Prince Louis and Tessy Antony exchanged their "I do's" in a small ceremony in Gilsdorf, a small town of about 1,000 inhabitants on the outskirts of Diekirch in the north of Luxembourg.
To be able to marry his bride, a "commoner" with a child out of wedlock, Prince Louis had to relinquish his right of succession to the throne along with those of his descendants. Prince Louis was however allowed to keep his royal title of Prince of Luxembourg and his wife and child took the surname "de Nassau".
Tessy Antony had become a mother, a wife and a Princess in all but title by the age of only 20.
Prince Louis and Princess Tessy with their sons Gabriel and Noah at Noah's baptism in 2007. / © Grand Ducal Court
The young family soon welcomed a second son into the world: Noah Étienne Guillaume Gabriel Matthias Xavier de Nassau was born on 21 September 2007, five days before his parents' one year wedding anniversary.
With their family complete, the young couple moved to the US where Prince Louis studied Aeronautics and Aeronautical Management for two years. Tessy and Prince Louis then made the move to London, where they would stay for quite a few years. They both enrolled at the Richmond American University where Tessy Antony studied International Relations and received her Bachelor's degree in 2014. For her Master's studies, she switched to the University of London where she read Diplomatic Studies.
Prince Louis and Princess Tessy at their graduation from Richmond American International University in London, together with Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Princess Tessy's mother Régine Antony. / © Grand Ducal Court
On Luxembourg's National Day in 2009, Grand Duke Henri officially granted his daughter-in-law Tessy the title of "Princess of Luxembourg" and made his grandchildren into young Princes of Nassau.
A fairytale gone sour
On January 18 2017, Princess Tessy and Prince Louis announced their separation with intent to divorce to an unsuspecting public. Just four months earlier, they had sat down for a rare joint interview with RTL to mark their ten year wedding anniversary in which they talked lovingly about their relationship.
Their divorce was granted on 17 February 2017 in London but it has yet to be finalised. Upon her divorce, Princess Tessy will lose her title of Princess of Luxembourg according to a grand-ducal decree from 18 June 2012 which states that "a spouse (by marriage) loses, in case of divorce, her titles and predicates".
© Grand Ducal Court
In court, the two parties disagreed on money with Princess Tessy revealing on social media that she is considering an appeal to the ruling in which Prince Louis has to pay around €4,500 per child per year. The mother of two children disagreed with the ruling, saying that she is "simply asking for a house for her and her children" as well as financial support.
During the divorce proceedings, Prince Louis stated that he could not pay a large amount of money because he doesn't have a paying job, but he is said to be looking for one.
Despite these disagreements, kind words were also exchanged with Mr Justice MacDonald revealing a statement by Prince Louis: "We married young and much has been expected from the applicant in her role as princess. She undertook that role with grace and represented my family well, for which I am grateful to her."
Justice MacDonald, the presiding High Court judge in the case, also came to Princess Tessy's defence after several tabloid newspapers portrayed her as a "gold digger": "Although a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and whilst the point does not fall formally for me to determine, on the detailed evidence that has been available to me, I take the view that the manner in which the wife has been traduced in some sections of the press by the use of that malign characterisation is both unfair and unwarranted."
© Grand Ducal Court
Justice MacDonald added: "At its heart, this is simply a sad case about a young couple who determined to marry for love despite the considerable challenges posed by the way in which history, tradition and chance had conspired to define their respective social status and to shape attitudes towards their marriage."
Despite challenging ongoing divorce proceedings, the Princess Tessy seems to be doing well and is immersing herself in her humanitarian work. She is currently involved in the NGO Professors without Borders and works as an UNAIDS ambassador, and earlier this year announced that she would be working with Montessori St Nicholas as a global partner of education.
In a series of instagram posts to mark her 33rd birthday on 28 October 2018, Tessy bid goodbye to a tough year and said that she was looking forward to making "new and inspiring memories."
Sarah Cames is a twentysomething freelance journalist with a keen interest in anything to do with politics, history and pop culture.