Marie-Astrid Liliane Charlotte Léopoldine Wilhelmine Ingeborg Antoinette Élisabeth Anne Alberte was born on 17 February 1954, the eldest daughter of the (then) Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Jean and his wife Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium. The Princess was born at Betzdorf Castle in Luxembourg, as were all of her siblings: Prince Henri, the current Grand Duke of Luxembourg (born on 16 April 1955), twins Prince Jean and Princess Margaretha (born on 15 May 1957) and Prince Guillaume (born on 1 May 1963). Her godparents were her maternal grandfather, former King Leopold III of Belgium and her paternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.
The Princess was educated in Luxembourg and Belgium and earned her certification as a registered nurse in 1974, obtaining a specialised certificate in tropical medicine from the Prince Leopold Institute in 1977. Since 1970, she has been President of the Red Cross for Luxembourg Youth. In her youth, as one of the few eligible royal princesses from reigning European houses, she was considered an ideal candidate by matchmakers for marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne. Media reports in the 1970s regularly speculated about the prospects of such a marriage, with the Daily Express going so far as to claim in June 1977 that the couple’s engagement was imminent. It has since been suggested that the marriage rumours were a result of efforts to detect a leaker in the Privy Council as a marriage between the pair was extremely unlikely, considering the Prince of Wales would be the next Head of the Church of England and because Princess Marie-Astrid is a devout Catholic. Such a marriage is prohibited by the Act of Settlement of 1701, and if such a union were to take place, the Act would have had to have been repealed or modified.
Her Royal Highness married Archduke Carl Christian of Austria on 6 February 1982. The pair were initially married in a civil ceremony at the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg’s capital, before being religiously married at the Notre Dame Cathedral of Luxembourg an hour later. The bride wore a ruffled, satin gown of its time, topping her ensemble off with the Congo Diamond Tiara, the same tiara worn by her mother Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and sister-in-law, Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria Teresa at their respective weddings. Upon her wedding, Princess Marie-Astrid became an archduchess of the disposed Austro-Hungarian Empire and a member of the House of Habsburg, with the style of Imperial Highness. Her Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, Zita, the last Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary (and paternal grandmother of the groom), attended the wedding ceremonies.
The pair went on to have five children: Archduchess Marie Christine Anne Astrid Zita Charlotte (born on 31 July 1983); Archduke Imre Emanuel Simeon Jean Carl Marcus d’Aviano (born on 8 December 1985); Archduke Christoph Henri Alexander Maria Marcus d’Aviano (born on 2 February 1988); Archduke Alexander Hector Marie Karl Leopold Marcus d’Aviano (born on 26 September 1990); and Archduchess Gabriella Maria Pilar Yolande Joséphine Charlotte (born on 26 March 1994). The Archducal couple now has six grandchildren.
Although Archduchess Marie-Astrid does not have a defined official role, Her Imperial and Royal Highness does occasionally attend official functions, especially regarding those under her official patronage and honorary presidency. One of the organisations the Princess is involved in is l’Arche International, of which Marie-Astrid serves as a member of the Board of Directors. This is an organisation that works with people with intellectual disabilities. Archduchess Marie-Astrid can also be seen attending many family events in Luxembourg, such as the wedding of her nephew and godson, Prince Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg to Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy in October 2012. The Princess Marie-Astrid ship (on which the European Union’s Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985) is named after the Princess.