H.R.H. the Grand Duchess
22 March 1956
in Havana, Cuba
Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Teresa is one of four children of Mr José Antonio Mestre and Mrs Maria Teresa Batista-Falla de Mestre.
On 14 February 1981, Maria Teresa Mestre married His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Henri of Luxembourg at the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Luxembourg. They have four sons and a daughter:
- Prince Guillaume (born in 1981), the Crown Prince,
- Prince Félix (born in 1984),
- Prince Louis (born in 1986),
- Princess Alexandra (born in 1991),
- Prince Sébastien (born in 1992).
On 7 October 2000, Prince Henri became Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Since then, Princess Maria Teresa bears the title of Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.
Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess is the grandmother of four grandsons and one granddaughter:
- Prince Charles (born 10 May 2020), son of the Crown Prince and Princess,
- Princess Amalia (born on 15 June 2014) and Prince Liam (born on 28 November 2016), the two children of Prince Félix and Princess Claire of Luxembourg, and
- Prince Gabriel (born on 12 March 2006) and Prince Noah (born on 21 September 2007), the two sons of Prince Louis of Luxembourg.
In this gallery, discover the Grand Duchess in all her facets, whether in her official photo, gala outfit or au naturel.
Maria Teresa and her mother, Maria Teresa Batista-Falla de Mestre
The Grand Duchess showed an interest in social and humanitarian causes very early on. This was in line with the family tradition, as her grandparents Augustin Batista Y Gonzalez De Mendoza and Maria Teresa Falla Y Bonet had also been involved in philanthropic and cultural life in Cuba. The construction of community clinics offering free treatment in deprived rural areas were among their most remarkable achievements. Her grandparents also contributed to the creation of the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra and remained its principal patrons until the Cuban Revolution.
Because of the revolution led by Fidel Castro, the young Maria Teresa Mestre left Cuba in 1960 together with her parents José Antonio Mestre and Maria Teresa Batista-Falla de Mestre and her two brothers and her sister. The family of Spanish origin settled in New York, where the future Grand Duchess enrolled at the Marymount School. From 1961 onwards, she pursued her education at the École Française (French School). As of June 1965, her parents stayed on the family property in Santander (Spain), for a few months before choosing Geneva (Switzerland) as their permanent home. Like her two brothers and her sister – Antonio, Luis and Catalina – Maria Teresa has enjoyed an excellent education. While her father worked in finance, her mother, passionate about the arts and literature, dedicated herself to her family and conveyed the values of Christian faith to her children.
Family photo: The Grand Duchess with her parents, her brothers and her sister
After studying at the École Française (French School) in New York, Maria Teresa pursued her education from 1965 onwards at the Institut Marie-José in Gstaad, then at the Marie-Thérèse boarding school in Geneva, where she graduated with a French baccalaureate in June 1975. In the meantime, she became a Swiss citizen.
After her secondary studies, she enrolled at the University of Geneva where she studied Political Science. At university, she met her future husband, Prince Henri of Luxembourg, who studied the same subjects.
She obtained her degree in Political Science in 1980, and on 7 November the same year, their engagement was announced.
On Valentine’s Day in 1981, Maria Teresa Mestre married H.R.H. the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Her commitment to women’s rights
The Grand Duchess is particularly affected by the trauma, isolation and stigmatisation of women and girls who had been victims of sexual violence in fragile environments and commits herself to their cause from 2014 onwards.
After doing extensive research on the subject, she met with survivors. In 2016, Her Royal Highness met with the winners of the Sakharov Prize, Nadia Murad (Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2018) and Lamiya Aji Bachar, two young Iraqi women from the Yezidi community, who have become symbols for all the victims of violence from the so-called Islamic State and spokespersons of their community.
H.R.H. the Grand Duchess receives the laureates of the Sakharov Prize 2016, Nadia Mourad Bassi Taha and Lamiya Aji Bachar at the Grand Ducal Palace on 15 December 2016
It was also in 2016 that the Grand Duchess met Dr. Denis Mukwege (Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2018). Deeply impressed by his work, she took the initiative to organise with him and with Céline Bardet, founder and director of the association 'We are not Weapons of War’, the international Forum 'Stand Speak Rise Up!' in Luxembourg, in March 2019, to put an end to sexual violence in fragile environments.
The Grand Duchess and Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate during the Stand Speak Rise Up! press conference in 2019
This international forum, which brought together 50 survivors and three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Professor Mohammed Yunus, Doctor Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, attracted 1,200 people.
Set up as a true debating platform among the key actors in the fight against sexual violence in fragile environments and the victims themselves, this forum highlighted the experiences, actions and recommendations of both representatives of national and international organisations and particularly of the survivors of sexual violence, who were at the heart of the debate. The socio-economic impacts of these crimes and human rights abuses were discussed. The survivors presented their initiatives to heal, access justice, obtain reparations, make their voices heard and become actors of peace and change.
The Grand Duchess created the association 'Stand Speak Rise Up!' in September 2019 to condemn rape as a weapon of war and sexual violence in fragile environments, prevent their proliferation and support victims in their reconstruction and their need for justice. The association gathers numerous renowned personalities who are committed to help around the world.
Discover the most moving moments of the international forum for survivors of sexual violence in fragile environments
In order to be prepared for the forum, the Grand Duchess made a humanitarian trip to Lebanon in 2018. She met with survivors of sexual violence (refugees and migrants), collected their testimonies and supported them in their quest for justice and reparation. She also visited a microfinance project aimed at improving the conditions of women, especially refugee women.
In 2018, the Grand Duchess was invited to speak at the Entretiens de Royaumont on the theme 'Being a woman and a victim’. She evoked the serious socio-economic consequences of rape in armed conflicts and in fragile environments. She called for an international alliance of survivors and civil society actors to strengthen the fight against sexual violence in fragile environments, improve prevention and implement appropriate reparation tools and recognition.
In 2020, the Grand Duchess was invited to participate in a virtual dialogue by NATO on the subject of sexual violence in conflict zones.
Entretiens de Royaumont – the Grand Duchess debates with other speakers on the subject of 'Being a Woman and a Victim' in 2018
For all these years, the Grand Duchess’ ongoing commitment to defend women’s rights throughout the world is also illustrated by her numerous projects to support women in Luxembourg.
In 2019 and 2020, she was actively involved in the campaigns organised for the launch of 'Orange Week’ in Luxembourg and she met with various associations, in particular those active in the protection of victims of domestic violence.
November 2019: Orange Week - Solidarity march against violence against women
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grand Duchess has maintained regular contact with the associations she supports, through telephone calls, through video messages calling for solidarity, or by participating in campaigns on social networks.
With the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grande-Duchesse, she has initiated numerous actions, such as giving smartphones and tablets to shelters that protect victims of domestic violence, and has notably offered financial support to students in precarious situations.
In 2021, the Grand Duchess supported the 'Vodafone Foundation Luxembourg’ and the non-profit organisation Femmes en Détresse (Women in Distress) in the fight against violence against women and girls by supporting the 'Bright Sky’ application, which helps victims and their families.
Honours awarded to the Grand Duchess
The honours that the Grand Duchess has received, amongst others for her humanitarian actions, are an illustration of her extraordinary commitments.
In October 1999, Her Royal Highness Princess Maria Teresa was awarded an honorary doctorate from Seton Hall University (New Jersey, USA).
In February 2003, she received the title of Doctor honoris causa from the University of Leon (Nicaragua). In June 2006, the Holy See’s Representation to the United Nations awarded her the 'Path to Peace Award’, a prize given annually to a person for their humanitarian and social engagements.
In 2013, the ELPIDA association of Friends of Children with Cancer awarded her the 'International Solidarity Award’ in recognition of her work for children with cancer.
The Grand Duchess meets underage girls and mothers with their children, as well as with young pregnant women and single-parent families at the Norbert Ensch drop-in Centre in Contern
The Grand Duchess loves spending time with her grandchildren. She is interested in decorative arts and design. In her youth, she studied classical dance for 18 years. She also enjoys singing, playing the guitar and especially loves to walk her dogs.
The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess during the filming of 'D'Maus Kätti' for KulturKanal in 2020
Passionate about literature, she was a member of the jury for the literary prize for historical novels, the Prix des Princes, in Paris in 2016.
In January 2019, the Grand Duchess awarded the 'Prix de l’Histoire’ to Loris Chavanette for his book 'Quatre-vingt-quinze, La Terreur en procès’.
Pictures and videos of the Grand Duchess
Portrait of H.R.H. the Grand Duchess at the Palace
The Grand Duchess during her speech for Stand Speak Rise Up! in 2019
2019, H.R.H. the Grand Duchess at the "Stand Speak Rise Up!"
2019, The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess at Bourscheid Castle.
TT.RR.HH. the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess at the opening of the exhibition 'Sur l'eau-On water' by photographers Yann-Arthus Bertrand and Philippe Bourseiller in 2018
Family photo: the Crown Prince, Princess Maria Teresa, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte
Birth of Prince Guillaume in 1981
The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess introduce Prince Guillaume to the people on the balcony of the Grand Ducal Palace in 1981
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and the young Prince Guillaume in the courtyard of the Grand Ducal Palace in 1983
Family photo in front of Fischbach Castle
Grand Duchess and Princess Alexandra, February 1991
Photo of the Grand Ducal Family in Fischbach in 1992
The Grand Duchess, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sébastian
The Grand Ducal Family on holidays in the 1990s
The Grand Duchess and her children practice the guitar in their living room.
The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess on the eve of the National Day in Diekirch in 2010
Visit of the 'Pontalize Center' dedicated to the care of the elderly.
The Grand Duchess attends the screening of the film 'Lynn-firwat net? Inclusioun gëtt et!' at the Utopolis in Luxembourg in 2010
The Grand Duchess visits a palliative care unit
The Grand Duchess visits the elementary school of Ermsdorf-Medernach in 2016
The Grand Duchess visits the different workshops of the 'Fourth World Movement' in 2017
Institutional dinner at Berg Castle
Visit of the International Bazaar in 2018
40th Anniversary of the Tricentenaire
The Grand Ducal Couple during the ceremony of the "Lëtzebuerger Filmpräis" in 2018
Inauguration of the Centre for the Development of Learning 'Grand Duchess Maria Teresa' (CDA)
Humanitarian visit to Lebanon in 2018
Volunteer Awards in 2018
Forum "From words to action: repairing the wounds of wartime sexual violence"
Engagement photos at Berg Castle
The Grand Ducal Family at Berg Castle
Watch videos of the Grand Duchess: