Crown Princess Chantal-Luisa was escorted by her father down the stairs of their palace to the large ballroom with walls of gold and rubies and crystal chandeliers hanging from the bright and brilliant ceiling. Other royalty were in attendance and they bowed and curtsied before the princess and her father King Hans-Georg II before the father and daughter started to waltz in the middle of the room. It was Princess Chantal-Luisa’s coming of age event and everyone was there to see her including potential suitors. The blonde, snow princess was dressed in a sky blue dress with a full skirt and roses on the neckline.
The first young man to ask her to dance was Prince Jean-Rene, a man, who, to Princess Chantal-Luisa’s horror, wasn’t much older than her! He towered over the pixie princess and had two left feet. Prince Matthias, a gangly youth with crooked teeth wasn’t much better. In addition, he hadn’t a sense of rhythm and the dance ended up a disaster when he stood on her feet and tripped her up! Princess Chantal-Luisa tried to politely entangle herself from his arms but ended up twisting her ankle as she moved too soon. Humiliated and hurt, she fled from the ballroom and hid in the spacious courtyard behind a large fountain. The sound of the water flowing into the pond of the luscious garden drowned out her sobs as she wept. What was she thinking? She would never find a match with any of these princes! Who would help the sixteen-year-old lead her kingdom? Who would assist her in matters of the government? She cried as she realised she had made a fool of herself in front of the heads of Europe and could never ever face any of them ever again!
Because her sobs were so loud she did not hear the soft footsteps of someone approaching her in the garden. It wasn’t until she looked up and saw a silhouette in the form of a tall and broad shouldered man. The moon had hidden behind the clouds on this bleak and dismal night hiding the identity of the mysterious person before her, and it wasn’t until she stopped crying she realised how cold she was.
The mysterious figure in the dark offered his hand to her and she took it. He had a firm grip as he gently led her back towards to palace, supporting her as she slowly hopped along. Queen Katherina stood at the palace doors and took her daughter in her arms at once.
She turned to the man and thanked him and he responded in kind by clicking his heels and bowing before he walked away into the night. Princess Chantal-Luisa’s ladies suddenly appeared and helped her to her room. She fell onto her bed and fell into a deep slumber, the disaster left behind her, a distant faux pas from the past.
* * *
Two years later emerged an elegant young lady from the elfin who once ran amok around the palace. Her birthday celebrations took place at the family’s holiday castle in the thick forests of the imposing mountains. Only a few royal guests were invited to the party in the castle that was small by royal standards, a little hideaway in the mountains, which had been built in the sixteenth century. Princess Chantal-Luisa saw between her parents, each sitting serenely on a golden throne. She was dressed in a long golden dress with delicate embroidery and a small, golden tiara.
Princess Chantal-Luisa smiled as each guest was introduced to her by the attendant including King Emmanuel and Queen Mafalda of a neighbouring country before they final guest was introduced.
‘Your Royal Highness, may I introduce Prince Maximillian of Buchwald!’ cried the attendant.
The princess leaned forward as she gazed at the man standing before her. She was certain they had never met and yet she was sure she had seen him somewhere before. There was something familiar about him and the way his moved as he clicked his heels and bowed before her. She motioned for him to come closer. He walked slowly towards her and kissed her outstretched hand softly. Her heart melted and she could not believe the feelings, which were stirring inside of her as she gazed in wonder at the prince before her who was anything but the “frog prince”. His deep-set eyes, complementing an attractive man’s beaming countenance. The princess was speechless.
Suddenly, the orchestra struck of a waltz. ‘May I have this dance?’ he asked.
Princess Chantal-Luisa was too overwhelmed to say anything. She merely nodded her assent, relishing in his admiring look as she stood up and took his arm as he led her to the dance floor. As they danced the princess gazed up into his eyes, which were fixed only on her. This handsome prince certainly knew how to sweep a lady off her feet for her was very light on his feet as they seemed dance on air around the ballroom.
Later, as they walked arm in arm alone through the little courtyard, Princess Chantal-Luisa asked him where they had met before. Prince Maximillian grinned and reminded her of a certain birthday party that took place ten years ago. She gazed up at him with a knitted brow before it hit her. His eyes danced with merriment as she gasped and exclaimed, ‘The man in the garden! That was you?’
‘At your service as always,’ said the prince as he bowed and clicked his heels before taking her arms again and gently walking her towards the end of the courtyard. They stood staring out at the snow covered mountain forest, which surrounded the little castle. ‘You haven’t changed a bit,’ Prince Maximillian mused.
The princess smiled as she gazed up at him. ‘Why have we never met before?’
‘I have been serving in the army before I finished my studies ten years ago. I arrived at your birthday celebrations late as I had difficulties in obtaining leave. You were running out of the palace like a mad pixie when I first saw you.’
‘I wish we had met before then!’
‘But would you have been ready for me then, mein Liebling?’ he asked tenderly.
She smiled ruefully before shaking her head. ‘No, I wouldn’t have been. I wasn’t ready for anyone – until I met you again here today.’
He smiled at her before turning to the mountains once again. ‘All of this will be yours one day, quite a responsibility for one woman alone. Although, I am sure knowing you, you would have little difficulty in ruling your kingdom independently.’ Turning to her, he took her hands in his. ‘Mein Liebling, I have something to ask of you. I wish to, with the consent of your parents, to court you with the intention of marriage. What do you think? Would you agree to that Liebchen?’
Unable to say a word, she simply nodded before he smiled and kissed her. He led her back inside the castle for the couple to announce the news to her beaming parents.
* * *
It was a warm, spring day, on her twentieth birthday that Princess Chantal-Luisa walked up the aisle of the royal family’s glorious cathedral. A cloud-like white veil had been draped over her face, held in place by a pink pearl tiara. There was a low buzz as the royal guests murmured their approval. The fine veil served only to enhance her extraordinary beauty. The sun streamed through the stained glass windows with a kaleidoscope of colours of the holy family and several saints. She was on the arm of her smiling father who led her to her groom who was in full dress uniform. There was a pure, unadulterated look of joy on the prince’s face as his Princess Chantal-Luisa approached. The bride and groom locked eyes as they locked hands, then they turned to the center to face the minister.
‘Dearly beloved in the Lord.’ He indicated with his arm to include the wedding guests.
‘We are gathered here today in the sight of God and in the face of this company, to join together this man and this woman…’