Nine South American Royals
We do not automatically think of monarchy at the mention of South America. After all the region prides itself of being -mostly- democratic. Nevertheless, there are plenty of South American royals gracing the world nowadays. And to prove it, here are 9 of them:
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Argentine.
Maxima is one of the most popular European royals and the most popular in her adoptive country, The Netherlands. Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her ancestors have been landowners, politicians, doctors, and bankers in Argentina for generations. She even has independence heroes in her family tree. And Maxima is of Spanish, French, and Italian descent.
The future queen attended a posh private school in Buenos Aires, and studied Economics at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Argentina. Throughout her twenties she worked in finance and banking, for both Argentine and American companies. At twenty-five she relocated to New York to work in an investment company, HSBC James Capel INC, as the Vicepresident of the Department of Institutional Sales for Latin America. Three years later she landed the same position at the Deutsche Bank. She first worked for them in New York, then in Brussels. And thanks to that relocation to Europe she met her Prince Charming.
A fair, Sevilla, and love
In April 1999 Maxima and her childhood friend Cynthia Kaufmann were at a fair in Sevilla (Spain), when they bumped into Willem-Alexander. So Cynthia, who was friends with both, introduced them. Willem-Alexander was captivated by the radiant and spontaneous Argentine. And they agreed to meet a few weeks later in New York. This time the infatuation was mutual, and they started dating. Maxima did not know he was a prince, and when he told her that he was the heir to the Dutch throne, she laughed, thinking he was joking.
In March 2001 they announced their engagement, and the next year they married in Amsterdam. Maxima was 29 years old. When the prince’s mom, Queen Beatrix, abdicated in 2013, Willem and Maxima became the monarchs of the Netherlands.
They have three daughters: Princess of Orange Catharina-Amalia, Alexia, and Ariane.
Queen Silvia of Sweden. Brazilian.
Silvia’s German dad, Walter Sommerlath, immigrated to Brazil in 1920. For the First Wold War had recently ended and unemployment rates were high in Germany. In Brazil he found a job at a steel company and married Brazilian landowner Alice Soares de Toledo (here is a picture of Queen Silvia with her parents).
Brazil and Germany: back and forth
In 1937 the Sommerlaths moved back to Berlin, and Walter bought a steel factory. But two years later World War II broke out, and they were trapped in the middle of it. In 1943, Silvia was born in Germany. And when she was three, the family was able to return to Brazil, where Silvia and her siblings were raised. (See also: These are the 8 most spoken languages in the Americas: and you won’t guess half of them.)
The future royal attended a bilingual school in Sao Paulo, founded by German immigrants. When she was fourteen, and the war was over, the family relocated once more to Germany. Silvia attended the Munich School of Interpreting from 1965 to 1969 and majored in Spanish. The queen is fluent in 6 languages: Portuguese, German, English, Spanish, Swedish, and French. After graduating she worked in the Argentine Consulate in Munich and then, fatefully, as a hostess trainer for the 1972 Summer Olympics of Munich.
Falling in love
The Brazilian interpreter was in charge of high profile guests at the Olympics. And the crown prince of Sweden, Carl Gustav, was one of such guests. So there, in an Olympic VIP lounge, they met. Carl Gustav has said that they “just clicked.” He asked her out on a date immediately, and that same night they were having dinner together.
Two years later Silvia moved to Sweden to be closer to her beloved. They announced their engagement in March of 1976 and married in June. Carl Gustav was king by then.
Tatiana de Monaco. Colombian and Brazilian.
Tatiana was born in New York (1983) and raised in Europe, where she attended The International School of Geneva. She went on to study Art History at the American University of London and then lived in New York, where she worked for Vanity Fair magazine.
With such a cosmopolitan life she speaks five languages fluently: her paternal Spanish, her maternal Portuguese, plus Italian, French, and English.
A low profile relationship with a Monegasque royal
During her school years she met Charlotte Casiraghi, granddaughter of the ruler of Monaco, Rainier III. Charlotte introduced her to her brother, Andrea, who at the time was the second in line to the throne of the principality. The South American and the Monegasque hit it off. And the private couple has been in a stable relationship since at least 2004 -in that year they were photographed together in Spain.
In 2013 they wed in a civil ceremony in Monaco. And in 2014 in a religious and very private one in Gstaad, a ski town in Switzerland.
Tatiana and Andrea have been together for 15 years.
The couple now lives in London, a city Tatiana fell in love with while studying college there. Andrea and the South American heiress have three children: Alexander, India, and Maximilian.
Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. Ecuadorian.
The story of Marie-Chantal Miller’s parents is one of rags to riches, specially her mom’s. Maria Clara Pesantes was raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Guayaquil, Ecuador. She is of Native American and Spanish descent. Her dad, a construction worker, died when she was nine. And according to Ecuadorian Historian Rodolfo Perez, Maria Clara dropped out of school at sixteen and found herself a job at a store that sold fabrics, for she had a gift for tailoring.
When she had saved enough money, she emigrated to New York and landed a job as a receptionist at a clothing store. Through her work, Maria Clara met Robert Miller, a businessman from the U.S. who at the time was broke. But he was starting a duty-free business. They fell in love and got married.
Soon, Robert business skills made him a billionaire. So the family kept homes around the world, including a hunting lodge in Yorkshire, England, set in 35,000 acres of land. They spent their summers sailing to Thailand, the Philippines, or the Mediterranean. But their main residence was in Hong Kong, where Marie-Chantal (born in 1968) and her two sisters were raised.
At nine, Marie-Chantal was enrolled at Le Rosey, an exclusive Swiss school that educates the children of European aristocrats and uber wealthy Latin Americans. Five years later the Millers bought a home in Paris, and the girls transferred to a French school nearby. Marie-Chantal did her senior year in New York, where she met artist Andy Warhol and did an internship at his studio.
After graduation, the socialite attended a handful of different schools, from NYU to Sarah Lawrence. She was still searching for the right career fit when destiny came to find her.
A family friend, Alecko Papamarkou, was playing matchmaker and wanted to introduce Marie-Chantal to Pavlos, the crown prince of Greece. Both guinea-pigs were reticent, but Alecko finally got his way. He took Marie-Chantal to a party he knew Pavlos would attend. And arranged for them to sit next to each other during dinner. Evidently, it worked. Marie-Chantal says that it was love at first sight, while Pavlos says he was “completely taken,” that she was the person he had been looking for.
Marie-Chantal and Pavlos fell in love at first sight.
Two years later, in 1994, they got married. And her dad gave her a 200 million dollar dowry. The royal couple lives in London and has five children: Olympia, Constantine, Achileas, Odysseas, and Aristidis.
* Monarchy was abolished in Greece in 1974. Pavlos father, Constantine II, was the last actual king of Greece.
Princess Alexandra von Furstenberg. Ecuadorian.
Alexandra Miller (born in 1972) is the younger sister of Marie-Chantal of Greece. Unsurprisingly, Alexandra’s upbringing mirrors Marie-Chantal’s: she was raised in Hong Kong and schooled in Europe and the United States. She attended Parsons and Brown where she studied Art History and Costume Design. And it is at Brown that she met her future husband: Prince Alexander von Furstenberg.
By 2002 the Alexes had separated. The divorce came next. Alexandra, nonetheless, kept her title until 2015 when she remarried.
* The principality of Furstenberg is now part of Germany and has not had a ruler since 1806.
Princess Alessandra de Osma. Peruvian.
Alessandra de Osma was born in Lima, Peru (1988). Her mom, Elizabeth Foy, is a Peruvian model, and her dad, Felipe de Osma, hails from Lima’s high society. His ancestors have been politicians, diplomats, and landowners in Peru for generations. (here is a picture of Elizabeth and Felipe.)
Alessandra attended a private school in Lima. When she was a teen, her mom took her to New York to become a model, and she was signed by the Ford agency. She walked for brands such as Missoni, but that was not really her dream. Alessandra wanted to own her own fashion brand.
Building up a resume
So she went back to Lima and studied Law. Then she spent one year as an exchange student at La Sorbonne, in Paris. Afterwards, the Peruvian jetted to London for an internship with famous fashion photographer Mario Testino, a fellow Peruvian. Then she interned at Sotheby’s, in Madrid. Work experience gained, she began her Masters at the Fashion Business School of the University of Navarra (Spain).
Meeting her prince
The future couple met when they were teenagers, in 2005. Prince Ernest of Hanover traveled to Lima for business and took his 19-year-old son, Prince Christian, with him. They stayed at the house of Alessandra’s uncle. One day Ernest asked if someone could take his son for a tour of the city. Alessandra’s mom volunteered her daughter. Alessandra and Christian spent the day together touring the historical sites of Lima and became friends.
Years later they ran into each other in Spain, and this time they fell in love.
Alessandra and Christian met in Peru when they were teenagers.
They were legally married in London in 2017. And the religious ceremony took place in Lima the following year. It was a three-day affair attended by European aristocrats and Lima’s elite. The ceremony in the basilica, located in Lima’s historical center, was followed by a lavish lunch at the exclusive Club Nacional. Afterwards, there was a reception at Beckermeyers House, owned by Alessandra’s family, and also located in the historical center.
The next day the real wedding party took place at the Museum Pedro de Osma, owned by the family, which houses the art collection of Alessandra’s grandfather. The building was commissioned by Alessandra’s great-grandfather, Pedro de Osma, a politician who founded the newspaper La Prensa.
Christian and Alessandra live in Madrid.
* Hanover, Germany, has not had a king in over a century. If it did, Ernest of Hanover would be the king. He is also in line for the succession to the British throne.
Duchess of Anjou Margarita de Buorbon. Venezuelan.
Margarita Vargas Santaella is a heiress from Venezuela. Margarita was born in Caracas in 1983. Her parents are Carmen Leonor Santaella and Victor Vargas Irausquin. Victor owns both a bank and an investment company. The family has several houses in Venezuela -city and beach-, plus homes in Miami, New York, Colorado, Switzerland, France, a 70 million dollar house in Palm Beach, and a summer house in the Dominican Republic.
Margarita’s dad owns horses and a polo team. Riding is, to this day, part of the culture of the family.
The future duchess attended Merici, a traditional school in Caracas that is run by Catholic nuns. Then majored in Pedagogy at the Metropolitan University of Caracas.
One wedding leads to another
When Margarita was 17 her older sister married Francisco Javier d’Agostino. Among the wedding guests was Prince Louis de Bourbon, a friend of Francisco’s. Margarita and Louis were smitten with each other. Among the things they had in common was a sad one: both had lost a sibling. Louis’ brother died in a car crash at the age of 12, while Margarita’s brother died unexpectedly from a disease.
The pair began a long distance relationship for he, the heir to the French throne, lived in Spain, while she lived in Venezuela. Against the odds, the long distance relationship blossomed and they married in the Dominican Republic in 2004, after a four-year romance. They now live in Spain and have four children: Eugenia, twins Luis and Alfonso, and Enrique.
Margarita and Louis met at her sister’s wedding in Venezuela.
The royals were in a long distance relationship for 4 years and tied the knot in 2004.
* France no longer has a monarchy. Still, Prince Louis, Duke of Anjou, is one of the two active claimants to the French throne.
Duchess of France Micaela d’Orleans. Chilean.
Micaela’s family was one of the wealthiest of Chile for generations. Her great-grandmother, Chilean Isidora Goyenechea, (b. 1836), was the heiress of a fortune that included ships, stocks, lands, and mines of silver and coal. Isabel married Luis Cousino, another rich Chilean mine owner, entrepreneur, and politician. Once widowed, she moved to France to school her children there. And since then the family has moved back and forth between France and Chile.
Micaela’s father (Isidora’s grandson), Luis Maximiliano Cousino, was born in Paris. His first wife was Chilean and his second wife died in Chile. That second wife was a noblewoman: Anne Marie Quinones de Leon y Banuelos, Marchioness of San Carlos, and Grandee of Spain. Luis and the marchioness had seven children, including Micaela. Some of them were born in Europe, others in Chile.
She attended French schools and a boarding school in England. Unlike some of her siblings that lived in Chile, Micaela chose to live her adult life in Europe. She studied history and linguistics at La Sorbonne. And worked for an advertising and communications firm in Madrid. Then as an editor in France.
In the eye of the storm
While working on an editorial project, Micaela met Prince Henri d’Orleans. It was 1974. They have said it was love at first sight. And passionate at that. Which represented quite a problem. Micaela was divorced, but Henri was not. The 41-year-old prince had been married for 17 years to the blue-blooded Princess Marie-Therese von Württemberg. The couple had five children.
Henri left his wife in spite of fierce opposition from his family and friends. When he divorced Marie-Therese, his father disinherited him and cut him out of the line of succession.
Nevertheless, Henri and Micaela married in 1984. Six years later Henri’s father soften and reinstated him as his heir. And gave Micaela the honorary title of Princess of Joinville.
* France no longer has a monarchy. Prince Henry, Count of Paris and Duke of France, was the other active claimant to the throne of France until his death in 2019.
Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark. Venezuelan.
Tatiana Blatnik’s roots in South America are not as deep as those of the previous royals, for she is a second generation Venezuelan. But it would be unfair to leave her out of the list. And she has stated that she does feel Venezuelan.
Two expats meet in Venezuela
Her German mom, Marie Blanche Berlain, was raised in Spain. As an adult Marie Blanche moved to Venezuela. Similarly, Tatiana’s Slovenian dad, Ladislav Blatnik, immigrated to Venezuela and acquired Venezuelan citizenship. And it was in the South American country that the expats met and began a relationship. Their daughter Tatiana was born in Caracas in 1980.
However, the pair split soon afterwards. And Marie Blanche married another Venezuelan, this time one born and bred, investor Atilio Brillembourg. (Here is a picture of Marie Blanche and Atilio.)
Off to Switzerland
Marie Blanche, her daughter, and her new husband moved to Gstaad (Switzerland) in 1983. And in Switzerland Tatiana was raised in a Spanish-speaking household.
When Tatiana was six her father died, and Atilio became a second father to her. He is the one who gave her away on her wedding day.
In spite of her multicultural background, the royal masters only two languages: Spanish and English. She attended Aiglon College, an exclusive English-speaking boarding school in Switzerland, and then Georgetown, in the United States, where she majored in Sociology.
The most gorgeous girl
In 2000 Prince Nikolaos of Greece -the younger brother of Pavlos of Greece, mentioned above– was in Gstaad with his friend Boris. They were are at a nightclub called Gringo. All of a sudden a girl approached Boris, whispered in his ear, and left. Nikolas turned to his friend and asked: “How could you let the most gorgeous girl escape?” Boris replied: “She is my sister!”
Nicolaos had met Tatiana years before when she was a girl, but now that she was twenty he did not recognize her. After that he started wooing her. For a solid year and a half. He lived in London, she, in Washington. He was certain he would marry her, she wasn’t so sure about starting a relationship with him. But after months of calling, sending flowers, and asking her out, she came around. And Tatiana says they have been inseparable since 2003. The couple got married in 2010. And in a nod to her birth country, her wedding gown was made by Venezuelan designer Angel Sanchez.
The pair lives in Greece.
One of Tatiana’s Instagram posts about Venezuela.
Tatiana and Nicolas chatting with Prince Charles of England.
* Like all countries in the Americas, Venezuela awards citizenship to everyone born in their territory.