Tessy Antony, Princess of Luxembourg, has spoken exclusively with Royal Central’s Europe Editor, Brittani Barger, about her life, passions, and charity work in a two-part interview. The Luxembourg native currently lives in London with her two children, Prince Gabriel and Prince Noah where she works. In part one, we hear about her military experience, education, view on social media, family and love of Luxembourg.
Long before she was known around the world, Tessy was a typical girl in Luxembourg who joined the military at 18, following in her sister and twin brother’s footsteps. When asked why she chose to join the Luxembourg Army, she replied: “My sister was already in the army, and my twin brother was about to sign up. My father was very keen to sign me up, too, which we ended up doing at the end. It was just one of those things I always was excited to explore.”
During her time of service, Tessy volunteered to take part in the United Nations Mission in Kosovo as part of the BELUKOS 13/15 detachment in 2004. “Once I finished my boot camp of four months and passed all the physical endurance and academic exams as the only woman of the whole group, it was a given for me that I want to join the Mission in Kosovo as the only female of my draft. I like to challenge the status quo, especially in male-led environments in order to encourage other women to do the same. This creates diversity, opportunity and equality in the workforce,” the royal said while explaining her reason for volunteering for the Kosovo mission.
The Princess also reflected back on her time serving her country: “It was a real roller coaster of learning experiences. My mission to Kosovo was at the same time the first time I was away from my family. At such a young age it was, of course, a time of learning and I did experience some ups and downs while deployed. I love my country and was proud to be the only Luxembourgish woman to participate.
“Moreover, I meet wonderful human beings, friends I still cherish and stay in contact with from all around the globe. I guess the most important lesson I learned during my time in the military was to find out about my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned to accept that I can’t do everything and started to focus my strengths on what I was really good at—women empowerment, women’s rights and human rights in general.”
Would she encourage other women to enlist in the military? “Absolutely, it is an incredible school of life,” she replied.
Her education was the next topic of discussion where she talked about her degree, experience and languages. She was asked: “Education is something very important to you. You have a BA in International Relations, as well as a master’s degree from SOAS, University of London. What spurred your interest in international relations?”
She responded by saying: “My father has been involved in local politics since I can remember. His efforts to make this world or more like the world around my family in Luxembourg a better world inspired me so much that I always wanted to get involved in politics. I knew the names of all politicians by the age of seven and watched the news on a daily basis at a very young age. I am such a nerd. 🤓”
Tessy wrote her thesis about the rise of nationalism in Europe, a topic very prevalent in today’s political climate across the globe. She focused on Greece, and I asked her about her thoughts on nationalism and if she believes it is still on the rise. The 32-year-old remarked about its sad continued rise and its dangerous rhetoric.
She said: “Sadly, we do all experience more and more the effects of nationalism in Europe and abroad. Now more then ever, young people are looking for a moral vacuum that they miss in their daily lives. Moreover, youth unemployment is on the rise, which makes this lack even more apparent. Until politicians realise that investing in education and work experiences for young people is the only way forward, we will sadly see nationalism getting stronger. Our societies are already disrupted by nationalistic rhetoric.
“However, it isn’t too late yet. We do remember what happened in World War II, and as such, we need to make sure that similar things will never happen again. That’s the moral and ethical duty of all of us as humans and inhabitants of this beautiful world that our children will eventually inherit.”
A polyglot, Tessy shared her view on the importance of learning and being able to speak more than one language, adding that being multilingual is a benefit in the competitive workforce.
“I truly believe that the gift of languages is something one cannot buy. It is something one should learn from a small age. Young people go to university and get all of these incredible degrees. However, due to education inflation, I realised that the skills that made us special such as degrees are nowadays not as special anymore. Therefore, due to competition in the workforce and high rates of highly educated youngsters, I would highly recommend languages as key part of all middle school curriculums like I experienced when I was a young girl in Luxembourg. This will make anyone’s CV stand out more,” she explained.
In our world, social media is prevalent. It seems as though few do not have some form of social media accounts. Royal families across the globe have utilised social media platforms to share information about their families and causes close to their hearts. Significant announcements like engagements and births are now shared via social media like Twitter at the same time that press releases are sent out to the press. Royals are just like us and have private accounts for their close friends and family; therefore, one royal who has seen the benefits of social media use as a platform to share information and insights with the public is Tessy who has over 8,000 followers on her public Instagram account.
Talking about why she decided to create a public Instagram, the Princess said: “I have a private account that has around 25 people.
“For my public account, I decided to keep it public, as this is the only way to reinforce my messages and encourage other young people to get involved. I noticed that by keeping it public, I receive hundreds of messages a week from young people who need encouragement, who are scared, confused or who just want to ask a question. I have found this medium of communication to be very accessible and educational.”
Social media can be both good and bad. She also spoke regarding her views of why utilising social media is so important in her position: “Loads of people approach me for guidance. If my public profile can accommodate this need and if my answers can help a young person to make an important decision for his or her life then that’s worth my time. Of course, some people criticise, and that’s ok. It is often their own insecurities or jealousies or quite frankly just because they are bored and like to talk about other people to distract themselves from their own issues. I have no problem with that as these side effects of social media are not mine and don’t affect my life at all. Quite frankly, often young people ask me about guidance due to cyberbullying and how they can possibly cope with their peers and peer pressure.”
One look at Tessy’s social media accounts and you will see the love and pride she has for her two sons, Prince Gabriel and Prince Noah. The two young princes are a testament to how great a mother she is and the way she and their father, Prince Louis of Luxembourg have raised them. She was asked: “You regularly talk about your two sons, Prince Gabriel and Prince Noah. How do you make sure they have a normal childhood while also being aware of their position and the responsibilities that come with being royal and having a title?”
She responded discussing their balanced family dynamic: “We have a very balanced family dynamic. My sons’ father and I make sure that they remain children as long as possible and receive and experience all the love and fun other children receive, too. At the same time exposing them to the real world by travelling with them to remote areas, making them participate at conferences and attend formal events at home. By combining all of these, we have helped our sons to grow up to be confident, informed, happy, engaged and kind little gentlemen. We are very proud of them.”
She doesn’t want to talk too much about her life in the Grand Ducal Family, but Tessy did comment on her pride of representing her fellow countrymen. “I prefer not to talk about my past life for now. What I want to share is that I am very proud to be a Luxembourgish girl and as such to hold the family name of this beautiful and diverse country makes me very proud. Luxembourg has incredible people who work very very hard. I support them and want them to know that my heart is always with them and that I will always try to help where I can. Actions go further than words. That’s all that matters. Luxembourg is a country everyone should visit and explore. Therefore, I will always try to proudly represent it like every other Luxembourg I know who lives abroad,” she said.
In part two on Wednesday, we talk to Tessy about her foundation, Professors Without Borders and other charity work.