Tsarska Bistritsa (Borovets), 26 October 2002
The wedding celebrations
The wedding of Princess Kalina of Bulgaria and Kitín Muñoz was called the wedding of the year in Bulgaria. The family decided Borovets was the most suitable place for a garden party in the event of good weather as well as for the 400 guest indoor reception. The couple previously considered three different sites where Saxe-Coburg recovered inherited real estate after coming back from his Spanish exile. The Tsarska Bistritsa residence in Borovets was only given back to the royal family one week before the wedding and was constructed by King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Kalina’s great-grandfather, in 1914. The wedding also was first scheduled for the end of September in Sofia but this coincided with the wedding of Spanish Prime Minister Aznar’s daughter in Spain. October 26 is celebrated by Orthodox christians as the day of Saint Dimitur. The young couple chose Bulgaria as the place for their wedding ceremony, because both of them love our country and thus greater advertisement could be made to attract more tourists.
Princess Kalina and Kitín Muñoz arrived in Bulgaria several days before the wedding and stayed at the Vrana residence. Most guests from Spain arrived with a charter flight on Friday, October 25th. Some 200 guests in total came from abroad and were accomodated at the Rila Hotel and some other hotels in the winter resort of Borovets.
To avoid the paparazzi and journalistic interest the religious ceremony was held at the residence itself. As early as 10 o’clock, the guests of the wedding started to come. Former King Simeon, now Prime Minister of Bulgaria, in person came out in front of the entrance of the royal residence of Tsarska Bistritsa to greet the Samokov choir, which welcomed the wedding guests with traditional Bulgarian songs. About 10 pavillions, representing Bulgarian culture with authentic souvenirs (arts, crafts, carpet-weaving, pottery and jewelry) were at the guests’ disposal. The guests were able to buy souvenirs. The religious ceremony itself began at noon in a marquee, provided by a friend of the bride and groom, in the yard of the Tsarska Bistritsa residence and lasted half an hour.
As Princess Kalina and Kitín Muñoz both are Roman Catholic, the wedding was conducted by Monsignor Georgi Yovchev, Bishop of the Plovdiv-Sofia diocese. Ten people witnessed the wedding, including Kalina’s uncle Don Jose Luis Gomez Acebo Marques de Valcabro. King Simeon II took his daughter Kalina to the altar in the tent richly decorated with flowers and candles. The bride wore a cream-coloured two-piece wedding dress with jacket with embroiders and bands and white sandals and a belt that was similar to that which normally adorns the Bulgarian national dress, as well as a dropped veil. The dress was of Bulgarian design and made by local tailors and was inspired by Bulgarian folk costumes. Kalina and Kitín swore an oath of eternal faithfulness with ‘Si’ (yes). The ritual included prayers and congratulations read in Bulgarian and the Choir of the St Ludwig Catholic Cathedral in Plovdiv sang. The Bishop’s assistant fainted from the high temperature in the marquee. Both Kalina and her parents shed some tears during the ceremony. After the exchanging of the wedding rings and the unveiling of the heavily veiled bride – with help of King Simeon II, bride and groom were able to touch each other for the first time on their wedding day.
Afterwards bride and groom, family and guests, headed for the Blagovestenie (or Preobrazhenie?) Gospodne Church (Holy Transfiguration Eastern Orthodox Church) where three Orthodox priests blessed the newly-wed couple. According to the Bulgarian tradition bride and groom were welcomed with bread and salt. Citizens were freely admitted to this part of the wedding. Princess Kalina gave her bouquet, flower by flower, to the many people in front of the church who sang Bulgarian folk songs.
In the second marquee in the yard of the Tsarska Bistritsa residence the official lunch took place. The menu opened with a snifter of rayika/rakia (Bulgarian schnapps), followed by Shopska salad and moussaka with Samokov potatoes as main course, and finished with Kalina and Kitín’s favourite blueberry pancakes. Danail Danailov, chef and owner of the Plovdiv-based Kambana restaurant, took care of the menu. Princess Kalina even decided to give up the wedding cake for her favourite pancakes. The guests drank white and red Bulgarian wines. During the lunch King Simeon II said: “I’m happy to be back in Bulgaria.” In Spanish, English and other languages he expressed his admiration of Bulgaria’s beauty. He was loudly applauded by the guests. Folklore bands and performers from various regions of the country as well as a gypsy orchestra were invited to play during the wedding lunch. During the lunch the Bulgarian government presented bride and groom with a more than one-meter high icon-holder, decorated in Jerusalem. After the lunch the foreign guests told journalists that they liked the food a lot. On their way out, all foreign guests received traditional Bulgarian souvenirs as presents by the young family.
After lunch the official pictures with family and guests were taken. For about fifteen minutes they posed before the photographers and bride and groom, with the bride’s parents gave interviews to the journalists. After the official pictures were taken the guests left to prepare for the evening reception, which took place in the Rila hotel in Borovets. On the day after the wedding, all guests were able to see the royal residence in Tsarska Bistritsa and its surroundings and were able to get acquainted with Bulgaria as a tourist destination.
The couple met three years ago in Madrid and were introduced to each other by their close friend Alvaro de Marichalar, brother of Jaime de Marichalar who is married to Infanta Elena of Spain.
The invitation cards featured a picture of Borovets taken by Princess Kalina and the Bulgarian national flag. No crown symbols or titles of nobility are printed, just the two letters ‘KK.’ The Spanish cards provided directions about how to get to the Tsarska Bistritsa Residence.
Bulgarian fortune tellers have predicted marital bliss for the couple, saying Kitín Muñoz was made for Princess Kalina.
During the presentation of the documentary shows about his travels Kitín Muñoz said about the wedding: “We are making final preparations and all goes smoothly. Kalina is as adventurous as I am and we both love the unknown and traveling.” He said that the marriage will be his greatest adventure of all.
Kitín’s present to Kalina was a set of 13 Roman coins, which is a local Spanish custom. Wedding coins are decorated with Roman motifs and are presented in a special case.
Princess Kalina received for her wedding an authentic dress designed in accordance with the traditions of the Rhodope area, a colourful fleecy rug, and antique copper bells. The gifts were collected from Smolyan region, Southern Bulgaria, and were delivered by executives of the Rubella cosmetics company. The Rhodope dress has ethnological value. It was selected with assistance from local experts, Rubella chief executive Krassimir Mitev said. “We have prepared typical Bulgarian-style gifts and herbal cosmetics, symbolising traditional as well as new Bulgaria.”
The wedding was broadcasted live by at least one national televion-station and on the Internet, while all the private TV-stations, several wireless-stations as well as the Bulgarian National Television broadcasted about the wedding. Several hundreds of journalists from all over the world covered the three-day event.
The bridal couple
Princess Kalina of Bulgaria
Kalina is the only daughter and youngest child of King (now Prime Minister) Simeon II of Bulgaria and Margarita Gomez-Acebo y Cejuela and was born on January 19, 1972 in Madrid, Spain. Her name means ‘wild rose’. She studied at a French Lyceum and is fluent in Spanish, French, English, Italian, German and Bulgarian. She is one of the most modern and original princesses in the world and is famous for her unique style of dress and make-up. Once she shaved her head completely and later dyed her hair bright orange. The Spanish press comments that she rarely wears jewels, preferring showy costume earrings, necklaces and trinkets. She is also fascinated with exaggerated makeup and Manila shawls which she wraps around her neck or ties up in a knot on her head in pirate style.She is a vegetarian and is very creative. She loves painting and designing and wants to be a fine arts dealer. She loves modern art and likes visiting exhibitions. She devotes herself to the restoration of furniture, but has also worked in the fashion world of London, though she often snubs modern fashion conventions. She detests cruelty to animals and belongs to an animal rights group.
Antonio (Kitín) Muñoz Valcárcel
Kitín was born in Sidi Ifni, Morocco, on November 19, 1958. He is a former membre of the Spanish army’s elite commando unit. He is famous for his three failed attempts to cross the Pacific Ocean in a 27m-long boat made of reeds to prove that centuries ago sailors crossed the ocean from the Americas to Asia in similar boats. He set out from Chile with a crew of nine from Easter Island, Peru, Bolivia, Japan, and Tahiti. “With this voyage I would like to demonstrate that many of the parallels that exist between different cultures and people that today are attributed to arbitrary causes had their reason in the voyages that had crossed seas and oceans in remote times and before the European expeditions of the 15th century,” Kitín Muñoz said. The project had two aims: to prove that the original inhabitants of the island culture were capable of realising transoceanic voyages with resistant boats, and also to demonstrate that there could have been a cultural, botanical and blood relationship between civilisations separated by the sea. His expedition recalls the epic raft voyage by Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl more than 50 years ago to prove that ancient people from the Americas could have colonised Polynesia. The voyage from Easter Island sought to prove that ancient people were capable of crossing the seas before the Europeans. The 14 000 km voyage took between five and six months. Kitín Muñoz said he wanted to demonstrate that people from the Americas, the Polynesian Islands and Asia used seafaring vessels for trade before Christopher Columbus arrived. The boat was made of reeds from Lake Titicaca in the Andes, on the border of Bolivia and Peru. Its figurehead represented a mythological bird from Easter Island. Unlike the ancient boats, it had solar panels for on-board power and hi-tech navigational aids including a global positioning system and a satellite link. Last year Princes Kalina accompanied him on an expedition to the coast of Morocco where the authorities rolled out the red carpet for them and the two were given a royal welcome. Kitín Muñoz is a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO for his work on the environment and for indigenous peoples, and is an honorary consul of Morocco. He is about to become anchor of a series of documentary shows on one of the most popular Spanish TV channels. Kalina describes her fiancee as a scholar studying different civilisations and disagrees with opinions that his pursuits are extravagant.
More than 200 guests from abroad were present at the wedding of Princess Kalina of Bulgaria and Kitín Muñoz, including members of several European royal families. The wedding was not attended by kings and queens but by representatives of royal families who are Kalina’s age, many of them being the bride’s cousins.
The wedding was attended by the whole Bulgarian Royal family, including Princess Maria Luisa and her family. Also the groom’s mother, his two brothers and sister attended the wedding. One of the witnesses on Kalina’s side was her mother’s brother José Luis Gomez-Acebo.
Among the royal guests were Infanta Cristina of Spain and her husband Iñaki Urdangarín, Doña Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco, Lord Frederick Windsor, a count Bernadotte, Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco, Lalla Dschumena of Morocco, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Princess Chantal of France and Baron François-Xavier de Sambucy de Sorgue, Princess Béatrice d’Orléans, Princess Adelaïde d’Orléans, Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy and Elisabeth de Balkany, Princess Chantal de Bourbon de Parme, Archduke Georg and Archduchess Eilika of Austria, Duchess Sophie and Duchess Margarethe von Württemberg, Duke Duarte and Duchess Isabel de Bragança, Duke Moritz von Hessen, Princess Tatjana zu Sayn- Wittgenstein-Berleburg (?), Duke Franz of Bavaria, Princess Maria Theresia and Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, Prince Amyn Khan and Hélène Kirby (daughter of Grandduchess Leonida of Russia).
Other foreign guests included many influential figures from the business communities of the United States, France, Spain and Switzerland. The guestlist also included Alvaro de Marichalar, who introduced the couple to each other three years ago, and two explorer-friends of the groom: Miguel de la Quadra Salcedo and Perez de Tudeira, a Mount Everest summiteer. Also expected were Jacqueline Beer Heyerdahl, widow of famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, as well as popular Spanish singer Rafael.
President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria as well as all Bulgarian ministers attended the wedding. Other Bulgarian guests included painter Svetlin Roussev and sculptor Georgi Chapkunov, and other persons connected to Kalina, some of whom she has met in Madrid.