Friday, August 26, 2016

Royal Profile: Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este

Princess Maria Laura Zita Beatrix Gerhard of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este was born 26 August 1988, the second child and oldest daughter of Prince Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este at the University Clinic St. Luc,Woluwe-St-Lambert, Belgium{Source}.  She is currently eighth in line to the Belgian throne after her four cousins, and mother, elder brother and niece. At her birth she was not in line due to the laws at the time, however when the laws changed in 1991, she was placed 4th, eventually moving down the line after the births of her cousins who now occupy the 1st-4th positions for the succession.

She has four siblings, one older and three younger,  a sister-in-law and a niece{Source}:
  1. Prince Amedeo (b. 1986)
    1. Archduchess Elisabetta of Austria-Este (1987, m. 2013)
      1. Archduchess Anna Astrid of Austria-Este (2016)
  2. Prince Joachim (1991)
  3. Princess Luisa Maria (1995)
  4. Princess Laetitia Maria (2003)

Her godparents are her paternal uncle Archduke Gerhard of Austria-Este and her elder paternal aunt Archduchess Maria Beatrix of Austria-Este, Countess von und zu Arco-Zinneberg{Source}.

Until 1993, she resided in Basel, Switzerland, at which point her parents relocated to Belgium{Source}. She was educated at the Jesuit school College Sint Jan Berghmans in Brussels{Source}. She completed her secondary education at the St. John's International School in Waterloo, Belgium {Source}. She then went to London, like her brother Amedeo (educated at the London School of Economics and Political Science), but attended SOAS in London, where she studied Chinese{Source}. In 2007–2008, she spent time in China as part of her studies {Source}. She then enrolled at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris in 2008{Source}. The Princess is fluent in French, Dutch, and German, the three official languages of Belgium, as well as English {Source}.

On 9 September 2005, Maria Laura, along with six other students, were riding home from St. John's International School in Waterloo when the bus collided into three cars and rolled over several times {Source}. All of the students managed to escape before the bus burst into flames {Source}. The princess was unharmed but was taken to the hospital for observation and released to her parents after a few hours {Source}.

Because she is so distantly in line for the throne, her mother has guarded the private lives of her and her siblings, therefore, she and her siblings have rarely made public appearances. She appeared in family photos, at the baptism of her younger sister Princess Laetitia Maria,the wedding of Archduchess Marie-Christine of Austria and Count Rodolphe of Limburg-Stirum and her mother's 50th birthday celebrations.

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