Happy 61st birthday to Luxembourg’s Grand Duchess

Maria Teresa Luxembourg's Grand Duchess Maria Teresa

Luxembourg’s Grand Duchess Maria Teresa blows out 61 candles on her cake this Wednesday, March 22.

The mother of five, who was born in Havana, fled Cuba following the ousting of President Fulgencio Batista and moved to New York in 1959 and then later Geneva in 1965.

She met Prince Henri while studying at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and the pair married on Valentine’s day 1981.

This year, the couple celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary.

Maria Teresa is well-known for her contributions to humanitarian causes.

After marrying, she created the Prince Henri and Princess Maria Teresa Foundation to support people with special needs in Luxembourg.

She became Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO in 1997, and she is patron to a number of charitable organisations in Luxembourg and abroad.

Maria Teresa went from Princess to Grand Duchess when Prince Henri acceded to the Luxembourg throne, but she has always remained a down-to-earth woman, travelling abroad regularly to visit the projects she promotes in countries including Nepal, Mali, Bangladesh, Thailand, Bosnia, Laos, Chile and Burundi.

She is particularly interested in helping protect children and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS.

In 1997, the Grand Duchess became Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO and was named in 2007 an Eminent Advocate for Children by UNICEF.

In 2010, she launched a project under the Foundation of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, helping minors imprisoned in Burundi.

In a recent interview, the Grand Duchess stated that she had no plans to retire from her roles any time soon.