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Royal Wedding Jewels: Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoleon and Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg

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Royals from all over Europe gathered in Paris for something special this weekend: the wedding of a member of one of France's former reigning families to a descendant of German, Italian, and Austrian royalty.




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On Saturday, 33-year-old Jean-Christophe Bonaparte, Prince Napoleon married 31-year-old Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg. Jean-Christophe is a Harvard-educated investment banker who works in the private equity field in London. As his name and title suggest, he's also the descendant of the former French imperial family. Olympia has degrees in political science and art history from Yale and Columbia. The pair met while Olympia was studying in Paris, and they became engaged in Switzerland earlier this year.


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Jean-Christophe can claim impressive, extensive royal heritage on both sides of his family. On his father's side, he is the senior male descendant of the Bonaparte family; he's the great-great-great-grandson of Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon's youngest brother. His great-grandmother was Princess Clementine of Belgium, the youngest daughter of the notorious King Leopold II, which means that Jean-Christophe also related to the royal families of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom. Jean-Christophe's mother is Princess Beatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. She's the daughter of the late Prince Ferdinand, one of the claimants to the headship of that former royal house.


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Countess Olympia is the daughter of Count Riprand of Arco-Zinneberg (pictured above escorting his daughter), who is a great-grandson of the last King and Queen of Bavaria. Her mother is Archduchess Maria Beatrice of Austria-Este; she's a daughter of the late Archduke Robert and his wife, Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta. Olympia's maternal great-grandparents were Emperor Karl and Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary and Prince Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta and his French royal wife, Princess Anne of Orleans. Her royal connections are also far-ranging; among other links, she is the niece of Prince Lorenz and Princess Astrid of Belgium.


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Olympia wore a modern, avant-garde wedding gown from Oscar de la Renta's Fall 2019 bridal collection.


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Olympia's youngest sister, Countess Giorgiana, helped her wrangle the dress as she arrived for the ceremony.


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The gown featured a matching capelet, a lengthy train, and a matching cathedral veil.


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Olympia wore a bandeau-style tiara set with diamonds for the wedding. Royal jewel historian Vincent Meylan writes that the tiara belongs to Olympia's grandmother, Princess Margherita. The piece can also be worn as a necklace -- and, indeed, it was worn that way by Olympia's aunt, Archduchess Isabella, when she wed Count Andrea Czarnocki-Lucheschi in 1997.


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The grand sapphire and diamond earrings that Olympia wore were loaned to her by her mother, Archduchess Maria Beatrice. The earrings were a wedding gift to Maria Beatrice from her parents. She wore them for her wedding to Olympia's father in 1980, and more recently, they were worn by Olympia's elder sister, Countess Anna Theresa, when she married Colin McKenzie. (I covered that wedding in an earlier post here!)


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Olympia wore her incredible diamond engagement ring on her right hand for the wedding ceremony. The 40-carat ring made news earlier this year when it was stolen in Paris; police were able to track other property stolen during the same theft and happily recovered the ring.


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The couple wed in a civil ceremony on Thursday. On Saturday, a grand religious wedding ceremony was held in the Cathedral of Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, part of the enormous complex of Les Invalides in Paris's 7th arrondissement. The cathedral is located directly beside the Dome of Les Invalides, which houses the tombs of numerous Bonapartes, including Napoleon I and the groom's direct ancestor, Jerome.


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The couple emerged in the grand court of honor after the ceremony. They'll now be known by (some) Bonapartists as Prince and Princess Napoleon.


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As you'd expect from such a royally-connected couple, the guest list for the wedding was extensive. Here's a look at the lovely pearls worn by the groom's mother, Princess Beatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. Interestingly, she and the groom's father, Prince Charles, never had a religious wedding ceremony, a decision that reportedly irked both of their families. She and Jean-Christophe's father divorced in 1989.


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Prince Charles also attended his son's wedding. You might wonder why/how Jean-Christophe could be the head of the house when his father is still living -- it all stems from Charles and Beatrice's divorce and Charles's subsequent remarriage. To put a long story short: Charles's father, Prince Louis, was upset by his son's decision to remarry without his permission (as well as Charles's republican tendencies), and he decided to make Jean-Christophe his direct heir in his will. Charles has maintained that he's still the current head of the House of Bonaparte. Happily, Charles and Jean-Christophe's relationship doesn't seem to have been damaged by Louis's decisions.

Anyway -- that's Charles attending the wedding, with the bride's mother, Maria Beatrice of Arco-Zinneberg, on his arm.


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Jean-Christophe's grandmother, the Dowager Princess Napoleon, also attended the wedding. Born Alix de Foresta, she comes from a long line of French and Italian aristocrats.


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Members of several reigning royal families were also in attendance. The newly-engaged Princess Beatrice of York attended alongside her fiance, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. (Sadly, she wore no jewelry of note, and even her engagement ring was hidden in most photos.)


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Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg attended without his grand duchess, as Maria Teresa is still recovering from her recent knee surgery.


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But lots of other members of the grand ducal family were also in attendance, including Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie. She wore a pair of sparkling earrings with her red and cream outfit.


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Prince Felix and Princess Claire of Luxembourg were there, too. She wore a headband studded with crystals and pearls.


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Prince Louis of Luxembourg made an appearance, too -- he's pictured here with a cousin, Prince Laurent of Belgium.


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The extended Nassau family was also there. Princess Marie-Astrid attended with her husband, Archduke Carl Christian of Austria (a relative of the bride through her mother's Habsburg family ties).


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Prince Jean of Luxembourg was also there, along with his wife, Countess Diane.


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So was Prince Jean's daughter, Princess Marie-Gabrielle de Nassau, with her husband, Antonius Willms.


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Prince Jean's twin sister, Princess Margaretha, attended with her husband, Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein. They're pictured here with Archduke Simeon of Austria, another grandson of Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, and his wife, Princess Maria of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. (She's a cousin of the Spanish royal family through her late father, Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria, and a member of the extended French royal family through her mother, Princess Anne of Orleans.)


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Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus's elder daughter, Princess Maria Anunciata of Liechtenstein, also attended the wedding. (She's pictured here with Prince Laurent of Belgium, who took pictures with a whole lot of other guests for reasons unknown.) Love those statement earrings!


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Rounding out the grand ducal attendees: Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla, who wore a lovely crescent brooch for the ceremony.


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Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz helped represent the Belgian royal family, but they're also the aunt and uncle of the bride. (Prince Lorenz is the younger brother of Countess Olympia's mother.)


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Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, first cousin of the bride, wore a sparkling headband for the wedding. These bejeweled headbands are really exploding in popularity, but they do look maybe a little to much like a bridal tiara for wedding-guest wear, don't they?


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The princely contingent from Liechtenstein also included Prince Philipp (brother of Prince Hans-Adam II) and his wife, Princess Isabelle. She wore a very pearly necklace for the occasion, as well as a bold stack of bracelets.


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We also saw a whole lot of guests who are either members of former reigning families or -- as in the case of Jaime de Marichalar, former members of reigning families. (He's the ex-husband of Infanta Elena of Spain.)


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The Duke and Duchess of Braganza, pretenders to the defunct throne of Portugal, were there. Isabel wore a four-stranded pearl necklace and pearl earrings.


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The former royal family of Greece was represented by Crown Prince Pavlos and his daughter, Princess Maria Olympia. She wore a small pair of hoop earrings for the wedding. (Pavlos's brother, Prince Philippos, was also there with his partner, Nina Flohr.)


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Another Greek royal cousin, Prince Michael, was at the wedding with his wife, Marina. Michael also has significant French royal ties, as his mother was born Princess Francoise of Orleans and he was raised in France.


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Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, widow of the late Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma, was accompanied to the wedding by her son, Prince Dimitri (who is a noted jewelry designer).


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Archduke Rudolf of Austria, another Habsburg relative of the bride, attended with his wife, Archduchess Marie Helene. They live in Belgium and received Belgian titles in the 1970s.


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Prince Charles-Henri de Lobkowicz attended the wedding with his mother, Princess Marie Francoise of Bourbon-Parma, whose father was the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne.


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The Countess of Paris, wife of the Orleanist pretender to the French throne, was also present for this Bonaparte wedding. Philomena brought along two of her daughters, Antoinette and Louise-Marguerite.


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Prince Christian of Hanover, a member of the former royal family of Hanover, attended the wedding with his new wife, Alessandra.


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Members of the groom's extended maternal family were also present for the wedding. His aunt, Princess Anne of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, attended with her husband, Alexandre Ursulet and their family.


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And you'll definitely recognize the groom's uncle and his family! Yep, that's Prince Carlo of Bourbon-Two Sicilies with his wife, Camilla, and their daughters, Maria Chiara and Maria Carolina.


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This really was an old-fashioned dynastic royal wedding, but the bride and the groom have insisted that it's a love match. Given the likelihood of a French restoration (not exactly great odds for that!), that's probably for the best.


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Here's hoping for a happy future for this well-connected duo!