In just a few weeks, a Belgian princess will be getting married at a grand cathedral in Brussels. Today, we’ve got all the details on her engagement ring, her wedding plans, and possible wedding tiara options!
In December 2021, the Belgian royal court announced the engagement of Princess Maria Laura to a French-British investment banker, William Isvy. William was born in Paris, the son of a French-Moroccan father and a British mother. He was raised primarily in London, but headed to Canada as a young man to study at McGill University in Montreal. Today, he lives in London, where Princess Maria Laura also lives and works.
Princess Maria Laura is a niece of the King and Queen of the Belgians. She’s the eldest daughter of King Philippe’s sister, Princess Astrid, and Prince Lorenz. Maria Laura is the second of five siblings: Prince Amedeo, Prince Joachim, Princess Luisa Maria, and Princess Laetitia Maria. (She’s pictured above at Prince Amedeo’s wedding in Italy in July 2014.) Maria Laura was educated in Belgium and Britain, and she works today as a climate analyst for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, an NGO based in London.
All of Maria Laura’s ancestors are royal or aristocratic. She’s descended from Belgian, Swedish, Austrian, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French royalty. Through her mother, she is a granddaughter of King Albert II of Belgium and Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria, and a great-granddaughter of King Leopold III of Belgium and Princess Astrid of Sweden. Through her father, she is a granddaughter of Archduke Robert of Austria-Este and Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta, and a great-granddaughter of Emperor Karl I of Austria and Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma and Prince Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta and Princess Anne of Orléans.
William and Maria Laura will celebrate their marriage in a pair of ceremonies in Brussels on Saturday, September 10. The day will begin with a small civil wedding ceremony at the town hall in Brussels. The private ceremony will be attended by fewer than forty guests, with the couple’s siblings acting as their witnesses. Maria Laura has chosen her younger sisters, Princess Luisa Maria and Princess Laetitia Maria, for the role.
Next, a grand religious wedding ceremony will be held in the afternoon at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels. This part of the day will be attended by far more people: the royal court has briefed that 500 guests have been invited, including the entire Belgian royal family. The couple will be united in a Roman Catholic ceremony that also includes Jewish elements, as the groom is Jewish. The ceremony is currently scheduled to begin at 2:30 PM local time.
King Philippe officially gave his blessing for the couple to marry in January, ensuring that Maria Laura remains in the current line of succession. Last week, the Belgian royal court released several new lovely handout photographs of the engaged couple. The images prominently feature the engagement ring that William presented to his bride-to-be.
Here’s a closer look at the ring. Royal correspondent Wim Dehandschutter published some details about the ring last week, sharing that the jewel was “designed in Jaipur, India, at Gem Palace, a family business.” The ring features a central sapphire surrounded by pavé-set diamonds in a modern twist setting. Additional pavé-set diamonds are also found on the ring’s band.
So we know all about the ring—but what about a potential bridal tiara for the princess? Interestingly, should Maria Laura choose to wear a tiara on her wedding day, it would actually be a break with direct family tradition. Though recent Belgian royal brides have chosen to wear tiaras, none of Maria Laura’s direct Belgian royal ancestors have worn tiaras on their wedding days. Her mother, Princess Astrid, wore flowers in her hair instead of a tiara for her wedding to Prince Lorenz at the Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon in Brussels in September 1984.
Maria Laura’s grandmother, Queen Paola, also chose not to wear a tiara on her wedding day. She wore flowers with her lace veil for her wedding to the future King Albert II at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in July 1959. (The lace veil was an heirloom from Paola’s mother, Luisa.)
Princess Astrid of Sweden, Maria Luisa’s great-grandmother, also opted not to wear a tiara for her wedding to the future King Leopold III of Belgium at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in November 1926. Instead, she wore a traditional Swedish bridal crown of myrtle, as well as a garland of myrtle and orange blossoms, with her lace veil. (Never fear, though: she added plenty of sparkle with that diamond necklace!)
On the other side of Maria Laura’s family tree, there are a few bridal tiaras to be found. Her grandmother, Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta, wore a diamond tiara to marry Archduke Robert of Austria-Este in France in December 1953.
However, Princess Margherita’s mother, Princess Anne of Orléans, wore flowers and a thin diamond bandeau with her lace veil as she married Prince Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta in Naples in November 1927. Anne didn’t need a major tiara to look regal or imposing: both she and her groom were excessively tall! To give you an idea of the bride’s stature, the groom was reportedly 6’6″ tall. Their daughter, Princess Margarita, inherited their height: she was six feet tall, just four inches shorter than her tall royal groom.
There’s one more notable bridal tiara to mention in Maria Laura’s recent family tree. Her great-grandmother, Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, wore a diamond tiara to marry the future Emperor Karl I of Austria at Schwarzau Castle in October 1911. (That’s Karl’s great-uncle, Emperor Franz Josef, pictured with them.) The tiara remained with the family for at least another generation.
While Maria Laura can’t borrow her mother’s or grandmother’s wedding tiaras for her big day, the members of her generation of the family have indeed begun wearing bridal tiaras more frequently. One of those diadems, the Savoy-Aosta Tiara, now belongs to Maria Laura’s father, Prince Lorenz. Her cousin, Anna Therese of Arco-Zinneberg, borrowed the tiara for her wedding in October 2018.
Maria Laura’s sister-in-law also wore a tiara for her wedding day. Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein borrowed Queen Elisabeth’s Art Deco Bandeau from Queen Paola for her wedding to Prince Amedeo in July 2014. Queen Paola had previously also loaned the tiara to another family bride: Maria Laura’s aunt, Queen Mathilde, who wore it for her wedding in December 1999.
So perhaps we’ll see Maria Laura borrow one of those family sparklers for her wedding day in a few weeks? I’m certainly hoping so. A bride who is marrying in a venue the size of that cathedral needs a diamond tiara to provide some extra sparkle and glamour, if you ask me!