Artists for Peace
|Biography of Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg|
Daughter of José Antonio Mestre and Maria Teresa Batista-Falla de Mestre, Miss Maria Teresa Mestre was born in Havana (Cuba) on the 22nd of March, 1956.
In October 1959, at the time of the revolution, Maria Teresa Mestre left Cuba with Her parents. The family settled in New York where, as a young girl, she was a pupil at Marymount School. From 1961 she carried on Her studies at the Lycée Français.
In June 1965, Her parents settled down for a few months on their family estate of Santander in Spain, before taking up permanent residence in Geneva. Maria Teresa Mestre first continued Her studies at the Institut Marie-José at Gstaad, then at the Marie-Thérèse boarding school in Geneva, where she successfully passed the French General Certificate of Education (baccalauréat) in June 1975. During Her time in Switzerland, she obtained Swiss nationality. In 1980 she graduated in political sciences at the University of Geneva.
Miss Mestre met Her future husband, Prince Henri of Luxembourg, at that University. For four years they both carried on similar studies, working sometimes in the same study groups to which Miss Mestre reported on numerous occasions; she was for instance the author of a report on the compared legislations within the EEC on woman’s work and on motherhood.
During the same period Maria Teresa Mestre took an ever increasing interest in social and humanitarian problems, following the family tradition which had brought Her grand-parents to devote themselves actively to philanthropy and cultural charities in Cuba.
Besides Her studies, Miss Mestre was a member of a group taking care of the residents of old people’s homes. She also taught children at a Geneva school.
Spanish being Her mother tongue, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa speaks fluent French, for having carried on Her studies at the French School (Lycée Français) and in Switzerland. In Her prime youth she learned English. After Her marriage Her Royal Highness learned Luxembourgish. She also has basic knowledge of German and Italian.
In Her childhood, Maria Teresa Mestre took ballet and singing tuition courses. She loves music and literature and is interested in painting. Devoted to sport, she practices skiing, ice-skating and water sports. She has a sister and a brother living in Switzerland as well as a brother living in the USA.
Miss Maria Teresa Mestre married Prince Henri of Luxembourg on February 14th, 1981. They have 5 children, 4 sons and one daughter:
- Prince Guillaume, born on 11 November 1981
- Prince Félix, born on 03 June 1984
- Prince Louis, born on 03 August 1986
- Princess Alexandra, born on 16 February 1991
- Prince Sébastien, born on 16 April 1992.
On October 7th, 2000, Her husband Crown Prince Henri, acceded to the throne and became Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Since then Her Royal Highness Maria Teresa bears the title of Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.
Since June 10th, 1997, She has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO. Her preferred field of action is the education of women and children throughout the world as well as the promotion of microcrédits, which she strongly believes to be a powerful tool to help the poorest. She has committed Herself to allaying their suffering. She chairs many humanitarian foundations working in this field. She strongly supports any actions giving women the means to be autonomous and uphold their rights, such as the Unesco project “Breaking the Poverty Cycle of Women” in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, enabling the improvement of living conditions of girls, women and their families.
She has visited many UNESCO projects in Nepal, Bangladesh and Bosnia. A mother of five, she is particularly concerned about the destiny of children: she has denounced paedophilia and has sought to protect children by every means.
The Grand Duchess is President of the Luxembourg Red Cross and of the Luxembourg Cancer Foundation, Honorary President of the “Fondation du Grand-Duc Henri et de la Grande-Duchesse Maria Teresa” as well as of the Luxembourg AIDS Research Foundation. Further, the “Ligue Luxembourgeoise de Prévention et d’Action medico-sociales” is under her High patronage.
Her husband and She are also active members of the Mentor Foundation (London), created under the patronage of the World Health Organisation. The aim of this foundation is to prevent drug abuse by teenagers. She continues to provide high patronage to a large number of organizations, such as SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde. Since September 2005 she is also a honorary member of the “International Paralympic Committee Honorary Board”.
Her Royal Highness was appointed Doctor Honoris Causa at Seton Hall University (New Jersey, USA, October 1999) and the University of León (Nicaragua – February 2003).