Tessy Antony de Nassau, former Princess Tessy of Luxembourg, has been awarded a knighthood from Ordre Lafayette for her military service and international work.
Tessy was presented with the honour on Saturday at the International Day of Peace 2019 event in Geneva, Switzerland, which was hosted by the Bring Hope Foundation and Cercle Diplomative Geneve.
In her acceptance speech, Tessy spoke of respect for diversity and love, the battle against violence, and the prevention of conflict through communication.
“We are all blessed in this room to have had the opportunity to grow up in a stable and functioning society. Also, the nourishing, loving and supporting environment we have experienced from the people around us has also contributed to the strong ambition we all feel close to— to make this world a better place, a place of peace, a place of joy, a place of belonging,” she said.
She added, “Diversity teaches us that opinions – and often the actions and conclusions deriving from them – stem from the differing aspects of a human being’s background, sense of belonging, religion, cultural awareness and interactions with their peers. This is the core of diversity. Not one person in this room is the same.”
Regarding respect for love, the Luxembourg native remarked, “Respect for love is socially, politically and economically influenced, and is a very important factor to include in the peacebuilding process. We need always to consider social unrest and internecine tensions as part of this process; but Love, the way we love, who we love, how we love, is key and deserves respect. In many parts of the world, we have made significant progress towards this. We have seen a flowering of political force around gay rights, for example. But there is still much to do. The political decision that being gay will cost a person his or her life remains a debated one around the world.”
The former royal joined Luxembourg’s Army at the age of 18 alongside her twin brother, Ronny. She took part in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 2004. She spent six years in the military, and during her five-month deployment, Tessy saw “families being torn apart by a decade-long conflict; people dying; children orphaned; a country left unstable, unsafe and suffering economically. Young people being raised with the bitter inheritance of their parents’ and grandparents’ suffering. This inevitably biases them in their approach to this conflict. It is hard to listen when you are in pain. It is hard to listen when you have been told from birth that someone is an enemy, that you should not engage with them except in violence.”
Poignantly, Tessy said, “Triggering change is not defined by the scale of its outcome, it’s defined by the genuine effort of doing so.”
“We must address all conflicts, no matter how small or large they might be, with reason, an open mind, know-how, forgiveness and constructive dialogue.
“Every opinion needs to be heard, even if not every opinion must be implemented. Just the action of sitting at a table and talking constructively can make a huge difference. Dialogue is the key to creating a more stable, welcoming and prosperous society. Words matter,” she concluded.
Tessy is a dedicated philanthropist and co-founded Professors Without Borders, an NGO focusing on education. They work “to improve teacher mobility around the world so that every student can experience a dedicated, professional and inspiring learning environment that will fire them up for their next stages in life,” according to the organisation.
Tessy is also a UNAIDS Global Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls and patron of UNA-UK. She founded the Finding Butterflies Consultancy where she counts Montessori Centre International as clients. She continuously travels across the globe for her activism and charitable endeavours.