by Scott Mehl
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg
Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista-Falla was born March 22, 1956 in Havana, Cuba, to José Antonio Mestre y Álvarez and María Teresa Batista y Falla de Mestre. Three years later, the family left Cuba and settled in New York, where Maria Teresa began her education. She attended the Marymount School in New York City, and then the Lycée Français de New York. In 1965, the family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where Maria Teresa became a Swiss citizen. She continued her education at the Marie-José Institute in Gstaad, and then the Marie-Thérèse boarding school in Geneva, graduating in 1975. She then enrolled at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. It was while at the Graduate Institute that she first met her future husband, Hereditary Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. He is the eldest son of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium.
Maria Teresa and Henri were married in a civil ceremony on February 4, 1981 at the Grand Ducal Palace, and a religious ceremony on February 14, 1981 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City. The couple has five children:
Maria Teresa has always been an advocate for social and humanitarian issues. Soon after her marriage, she and Henri established the Prince Henri and Princess Maria Teresa Foundation to assist those with special needs integrate fully into society. In 1997, she was made a Special Ambassador for UNESCO, working to expand education for young girls and women, and help to fight poverty. She has worked for many years with UNICEF, being appointed an Eminent Advocate for Children in 2007. In addition, she is the President of the Luxembourg Red Cross, and an Honorary Board Member of the International Paralympic Committee.
Read more about the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg here!