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Hello Magazine (June 24,1995)
AT HIS PARENTS' HOME IN HAMPSTEAD NEXT MONTH'S ROYAL BRIDE AND GROOM SPEAK CANDIDLY OF THEIR ROMANCE AND THE PLANS FOR THEIR LONDON WEDDING
CROWN PRINCE PAVLOS OF GREECE AND FIANCEE MARIE CHANTAL MILLER
When His Royal Highness Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece walks down aisle of the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Sophia in London next month, it promises to be a wedding fit for a king. The royal family will attend as will his first cousins the Spanish and Danish royal families. And then there are members of the royal houses of Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Italy. It will be probably be the largest gathering of royals in London since the wedding of Queen Elizabeth to Prince Philip some 48 years ago.
Prince Pavlos, 28, has been overwhelmed by the international interest in his marriage to Marie-Chantal Miller, 26, the middle daughter of Robert W Miller, a businessman who made his fortune in his duty-free airport emporiums. The eldest son of the former King Constantine of Greece, who was deposed in a military coup in 1967, is at heart a low-key person but there will be no chance of avoiding the limelight when he marries next month.
The bride's parents will be hosting a dinner dance at Wrotham Park, a stately mansion outside London, prior to the wedding. The groom's aunt, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, will throw a lunch party abroad her yacht, the Daneborg, which will be moored on the Thames, and the wedding guests will be invited to a garden party reception at Hampton Court Palace after the traditional Greek Orthodox nuptial ceremony at the Church of Saint Sophia. Lady Elizabeth Anson, the Queen's cousin, will be taking care of the catering and her brother Lord Lichfield, will be the official photographer.
The couple met three years ago at the wedding anniversary party of mutual friends in New Orleans. You could say fate brought them together because they were seated next to each other-and didn't speak or dance with anyone else the whole evening. "It really was love at first sight,"Prince Pavlos said at his parents' Hampstead home last week. "I was immediately struck by her delicate features and her stunning beauty. Then I soon discovered that we had so much in common. She is one of the most loving people I have ever met in my life. She loves children, animals and the environment."
The fairytale romance resulted in a fairytale proposal just Christmas last year when Marie Chantal's Prince Charming went down on one knee in a telecabine in Gstaad, where Marie Chantal's parents have a chalet. She was very impressed: "There wasn't a lot of room, "she said. And she accepted immediately, of course. The Prince then handed her the most beautiful token of his affection: an engagement ring that had been fashioned from a sapphire which belonged to his family and a heart-cut diamond-his own personal touch.
Pavlos admitted the temptation of eloping and flying off to Scotland for a lightning ceremony was enormous, but reason prevailed even at that romantic moment high in the Alps. "We have a large family, "he says, "so it had to be a large wedding. Besides," he adds with a grin, "there are no Orthodox Churches in Scotland."
The couple chose London for the ceremony because it was more convenient for Pavlos' extended royal family, which is spread out across Europe. Besides, Pavlos' father, King Constantine, is based in the British capital. "It's very central,"he says. And Marie-Chantal's father has been a British subject for 20 years.
To marry Pavlos, Marie Chantal became Greek Orthodox, her future husband's religion, just a month a ago in New York. It was no ordeal. Marie Chantal was brought up as a Catholic and, as she puts it, both faiths are quite similar "so it was quite easy to make the transition."
Even easier was the transition into Pavlos' blue-blooded family and it had nothing to do with the attraction of exchanging vows with a Crown Prince. "They are actually wonderful," says Marie-Chantal of her future royal in-laws, most of whom she has already met. "I couldn't have asked for a nicer family. I couldn't be happier."
Neither could King Constantine. "She's a wonderful girl and he's a very lucky boy," says Pavlos' father, who delights in talking about the moment a nervous Crown Prince broached the subject of his love for Marie-Chantal after hours of procrastinating during a protracted night out with his father in Paris. "He told me at the beginning of September. We were both in Paris and he came to see me. I took him out to dinner and we talked about everything under the sun but not about Marie Chantal. Then he walked me back to my hotel and he said 'I will walk you to your room.' I told him I could find it myself but he came anyway and finally broke the news. I was very happy."
It's this welcome spontaneity that is destined to turn their fairytale romance and subsequent wedding into an event to remember. Nothing was engineered. There were no guidelines issued on the most appropriate woman for Pavlos to marry.
"My wife and I," Constantine says, "have endeavored to give our children options. Options regarding their education, options regarding their future. And most importantly advised them "to find someone who will love you and be with you for the rest of your life. "
With that kind of upbringing it's not surprising that when quizzed on his idea of a model marriage Pavlos points to his parents' union of 31 years and that of Marie Chantal's mother and father which is now in its 30th. "We have very good guidelines to follow,"says Pavlos.
And coming from two very family-oriented couples, Pavlos and Marie-Chantal have plans to repeat the experience sometime in the future. "I come from a family of three children, "says Marie-Chantal, and Pavlos' parents had five, so we are going to try for something in between!"
Their future home will contain a blend of cultures where the Greek language will be very much in evidence. Like his father, Pavlos is very much aware of his Greek ties, and Marie-Chantal, who has traveled frequently to Pavlos' homeland, is already learning the language with the aim of teaching their future offspring.
"Hopefully, my Greek will be proficient by the time we have children," she says, although Pavlos, mindful of his parents' "open options" policy says their plans are to bring their children up in English and Greek "the way my family did with me."
***The desire to perpetuate Greek traditions in Pavlos' family reflects the nostalgia felt by King Constantine for his homeland. He is currently battling the Athens government in the courts to get a ruling which confiscated his possessions and revoked his citizenship reversed.
"It's a question of human rights," he says. "I was head of state, I was King of Greece and now I am a private citizen so I the same rights to anyone else to be protected by the courts. What the government has done is in clear violation of the constitution. You have to be a spy or a traitor to take someone's passport away.
And for his part, Pavlos says he dreams of returning to Greece one day with Marie-Chantal, irrespective of his status.
But even though the nostalgia and the issue of the monarchy are often exacerbated by the holding of events like the July 1st wedding-which is to be broadcasted live in Greece-such questions are fended off with grace and even humor, and are unlikely to mar the next month's ceremony.
When asked about the possibility of his reigning one day as a monarch. "That would mean getting rid of my father first!" answers Pavlos. "For the moment I am planning to continue with my life, my wedding, my job. As for the future, we'll have to wait and see."
Marie-Chantal, to be known after the wedding as ceremony as Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Pavlos, feels the same way: "My priorities are my husband-to-be and my family. In time we'll see what happens, but Pavlos is my first priority."
After their honeymoon at an undisclosed destination- its a surprise even for Marie-Chantal - the couple will reside in the vicinity of New York where Pavlos begins working at the Charles R. Weber ship-broking company in September.
He earned his post in the company after years of hard work at Georgetown University in Washington where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1993 and where a month ago he obtained a Masters Degree in International Relations.
Marie-Chantal, apart from running their household, will also have her work cut out as a director of the Mari-Cha Collection - a major collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures established by her father - while she continues to further her knowledge of art history at New York University.