A royal match: how Anthony wooed his Austrian princess
IT'S a fairytale come true for an Irish businessman who is set set to marry an Austrian princess.
In the presence of up to 400 royals from across Europe at an elaborate ceremony being planned for early autumn, Anthony Bailey from Tramore, Co Waterford, will say "I do" to Her Serene Highness (HSH) Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg of Austria.
The second week of September has been pencilled in for the marriage at a venue still to be decided. The princess, a 34-year-old Vienna-based architect, is the youngest daughter of HSH Prince Peter von Hohenberg of Vienna and HSH Princess Christine von Hohenberg of Salzburg.
Marie-Therese and Anthony, who heads up an international public relations company, met 14 years ago. In more recent years, romance grew and in true fairytale style, Anthony popped the question at his holiday home in Portugal as the new year dawned.
Anthony was born and brought up in the UK. But since his Irish-born mother and his English-born father, Colin, set up home near Tramore 17 years ago, he has been a regular visitor to Waterford. "I visit at least five times a year and in the next six weeks I will be bringing Marie-Therese to Drumcannon to meet my parents," he said.
Marie-Therese is granddaughter of HSH Duke Maximilian of Hohenberg, eldest son of HRH Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Heir Presumptive to the Austrian and Hungarian Thrones.
Although Austria is now a republic, the Hohenberg family are direct descendants of the former royal dynasty which ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was dismantled at the end of World War I.
Over the weekend, formal photographs were taken of the newly engaged couple. Speaking from her home, Anthony's mother, Veronica, said the upcoming marriage was "wonderful news".
When the family spent Christmas together in Portugal, she said that she suspected that something might be happening but everything was kept secret until New Year's Eve. The marriage will start with a civil ceremony and altogether the celebrations will take three days. Veronica, who for many years had been fostering abused children at her home outside Tramore, said she had not even begun to think about what she would wear.
But her pride in Anthony, who heads up his own company and who has worked for governments and on diplomatic missions across the world, is obvious.
He has been knighted by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in recognition of his international charity work and his involvement with the homeless, and is a member of global organisations from the UK to Bahrain.
Anthony's father is a retired engineer and a former instructor at FAS.
Like Veronica, he is delighted at the prospect of the upcoming royal wedding.
"We are gob-smacked, but in the best way possible," said Colin.