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A Modern Fairy Tale

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jan 19, 2007

I don’t know what it is about English royalty, but it still gets our attention. In this case the attention is altogether good. For the first time in history, and with the blessing of Queen Elizabeth II, an heir to the British throne was married in a Catholic ceremony at the Vatican, at the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians.

The newlyweds, married last November 4th, are Lord Nicholas Windsor and his fairy-tale princess, Paola Doimi de Lupis de Frankopan Subic. Lord Nicholas is the youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Kent and was 25th in line to the British throne. However, he gave up that claim in 2001 when he converted to Catholicism. His brother George, the Earl of St. Andrews, had similarly given up his claim to the throne when he married a Catholic, as did his uncle, Prince Michael of Kent. Lord Nicholas’ mother, the Duchess of Kent, had already converted to Catholicism in 1994. (The English Act of Settlement in 1701 excludes from the monarchy anyone who marries or becomes a Catholic.)

Donna Paola’s mother, Ingrid Detter, is also a convert, as well as a Swedish law professor who serves as an advisor to the Holy See on international law. Donna Paola herself, now Lady Nicholas Windsor, is a cradle Catholic born in England. She inherited both her faith and her noble lineage from her father, Prince Louis, a member of the heroic and celebrated Croatian vice-regal family of Frankopan—the family that led the Croatian campaign for freedom from Austria in the seventeenth century.

Both husband and wife are devoutly Catholic. Lord Nicholas has maintained a constant and deep involvement with various Catholic charities since his politically-sensitive conversion. Lady Nicholas, educated at Cambridge, has a deep scholarly interest in Catholicism, particularly Marian theology. The couple attends Mass regularly at both Westminster Cathedral and Brompton Oratory. Getting married in the Vatican Gardens was very important to both.

Lord Nicholas is a tall, fit, intelligent and private man who tends to avoid the limelight. Lady Nicholas is a good match: slim, blonde, pretty, reputedly very clever, and a scholar. It can’t hurt the wonderful image that her family has a castle in Croatia. Far more importantly, both care deeply about their Faith. It remains to be seen how closely we may follow these young royals in the future but, in their quiet way, they’ve given us a fantastic start.

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