On 20 November 2010 Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme, Duke of Parma married Annemarie Gualthérie van Weezel religiously at the Abbaye de la Cambre/Abdij Ter Kameren at Brussels, Belgium. The couple had announced their engagement on 7 October 2009, after he had proposed to her during a picnic in the park of Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn on 2 September 2009.
The civil wedding had already taken place on 12 June 2010 in Wijk bij Duurstede, The Netherlands. The couple planned to get married religiously in Brussels on 28 August 2010 at the Abdij ter Kameren (Abbaye de la Cambre). However when the date of the marriage came closer, the health of the father of the groom deteriorated. Although he had expressed his wish that the wedding should go ahead, they had to cancel on 17 August. The Duke of Parma died the next day. A few weeks later it was announced by the family that the wedding was going to take place at the same spot on 20 November 2010. The reason: intimacy and they met in Brussels.
If I hadn’t taken an early train to Brussels the day before the wedding, I probably would never have been able to attend this wedding at all. It turned out to be a disastrous day to travel. I had already passed Utrecht, nicely on time, when it turned out trains around Utrecht – the center of the Dutch railway – wouldn’t go anymore because there was a fire in an important transformer house. Then a freight train got off the rails at Lage Zwaluwe, which I still had to pass. I reached Roosendaal at the border with lots of delay by bus and train via all kind of places I had never been before. And I think this was the time I had to take an overly crowded slow train to Antwerpen in Belgium. Finally after about eight hours – while normally it would have been five hours – I managed to reach Brussels. Too late for some decent shopping or look at the palace. At least my hotel at the beginning of the Avenue Louiza turned out to be a rather nice one.
In the morning of the day itself I decided to walk to the location of the wedding and get some food in a supermarkt. I remember I walked much too far, all to the other end of the long avenue. When asking it turned out I had to go back! I upset all security it turned out, as I took a gate at the avenue into the gardens of the abbey. Usually that’s not a problem, but they apparently forgot to close it, so they were flabbergasted when I turned up from that side. Luckily the policemen found it rather funny, and pretended to have arrested me when bringing me to the entrance of the abbey. And then the long wait began … we were happy that it was rather sunny, although I noticed later on that many of my photos were overexposed or not sharp. Unfortunately to regular onlookers they had blocked the entrance to the abbey, so only the media was able to see everything well. When the busses with guests arrived there were two tiny onlookers, the countesses Eloise and Leonore, and count Claus-Casimir of Orange-Nassau, who with their parents Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien, lived nearby and came along with their nanny to have a look.
The bride arrived at the abbey accompanied by her father, Hans Gualthérie van Weezel. The dress made of satin duchesse, had a four metres long train, and was designed by the Dutch-Belgian designer couple Jacques Devos and Pamela Hoffmann. The bride wore a tiara of the Dutch royal family with pearls on top. Special was the veil, designed by the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Not lace, but sustainable paper, decorated by hand with flowers, to emphasize the concern of the bridal couple for a more sustainable world.
The service was led by emeritus bishop Philippe Bär and carried out a messge of love. The couple themselves had chosen the liturgy. There were contributions by the groom’s brother, the brother of the bride and witness Jean-Charles Ullens de Schooten. They had some problems answering the wedding questions of the bishop, but in the end both said yes. Carlos took the marriage vows in five languages, Annemarie only in Dutch. The bishop also said that the couple wanted to start a family … well that has happened. In the past ten years two daughters, Luisa and Cecilia, and a son, Carlos, were born. There was also a message for the couple from Pope Benedict XVI. The witnesses for the groom were Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands and Jean-Charles Ullens de Schooten. The bride’s witnesses were Constance Mensink-Gualthérie van Weezel and Katerina Polykarpou-Karanasiou.
About 500 guests attended the wedding, including several Dutch politicians. No less than 31 members of the extended Dutch royal family attended the wedding, as the groom of course is a son of the Duke of Parma and Princess Irene of the Netherlands. The guests included Queen Beatrix, the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima. Also there were Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Prince Jean of Luxembourg and his wife Diane, the Duke of Bragança, Count Alexandre and Countess Isabel zu Stolberg-Stolberg, Countess Vanessa von Bismarck-Schönhausen and Maximilian Weiner, Princess Marie-Thérèse, Princess Marie-Cécile and Princess Marie-des-Neiges of Bourbon-Parma.
Lovely it was to see how all the guests after the wedding gathered on the square in front of the entrance of the abbey and cheered the bridal couple. They were showered with rose petals. Me and Mardam of Royalty (Travel) Guide stayed on the square near the entrance and tried to photograph some guests. Most of them left in busses. We were really lucky with the Duke of Bragança. He didn’t hear us, so when Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands turned up in front of us, I simply asked if he could ask the Duke of Bragança to get out of the bus so we could take some pictures … to our surprise he did. Of course then he nearly didn’t get into the bus again, as he also had to give a tv-interview, although the camerateam had no idea who he was, and asked us for his name afterwards. We had noticed beforehand that many of the media present didn’t recognise or didn’t care about some lesser known royals, so they never got to pose when arriving at the abbey.
The party took place at La Hulpe Castle just outside Brussels.
Video. Don’t turn the sound on! That irritating loud voice commenting on all kind of things is me.