Elyssa, do you feel Scottish?
"Very much so. It is the one place I will
always call home. There is so much freedom
and space, it is an idyllic place to grow
So how do you feel about marrying into
a very international environment?
"I just see Sigismund as the man I love.
The only difference is that I travel a lot
more and have the challenge of learning
various languages. I left my job at the BBC
in order to study French in Switzerland."
What work were you doing?
"I started off as a researcher on
Crimewatch UK, then on a programme about
child abuse and protection. Then, for almost
two years, I worked on Esther Rantzen's talk
show, which was extremely interesting, as I
learnt a great deal and met many people from
all walks of life. I researched a wide
spectrum of topics, from relationships to
refugees, from hostages to postnatal
How do you feel about combining
marriage and work?
"It's a very difficult balance and I
greatly admire people who can do it. I look
forward to working again, but I also hope to
fulfill my role as Sigismund's wife by
sharing his responsibilities."
How will you raise your children if you
become a mother?
"I would like to bring my children up the
same way I was brought up. Sigismund and I
have agreed to let our children make their
own decisions and just try to teach them to
be responsible. You must always respect them
as their own person."
How did you feel when you first met
Sigmund and what qualities do you most like
"There was definitely a strong chemistry.
Right from the beginning we were on the same
wavelength, we were soulmates. The qualities
I like most in him are his strength and
determination. He is very positive. I trust
him, which to me is the most important
foundation of a relationship. His love for me
is unconditional: he loves me for who I
Why are you converting to
"For Sigismund it is very important that I
should convert to Catholicism and that our
children are brought up as Catholics.
"It is a shame that many people nowadays
are turning away from religion, because there
are many misconceptions. Receiving
instruction from Father Ronald at the
Brompton Oratory has been a valuable
experience to me, because I saw how much
strength faith could give a person."
Would you like to live in
"It would be lovely to have either a villa
or vineyard in Tuscany and I want Tuscany to
become a very important part of my life and
that of our children."
What do you value most in life?
"Love: I never want to be emotionally
Grand Duke, how did you meet
"It was quite funny, because a friend
called me to ask me to visit him in Scotland
and I thought, 'Oh, Scotland is so far north
and it rains horribly.' But I went anyway and
there she was: Elyssa was sitting beside me
at dinner, and I fell in love with her at
What do you like most about
"Her openness and her sincerity. Lissy
speaks from her heart but she is also very
rational. She is extremely intelligent and
very lovely looking. She is intuitive and
reads my thoughts immediately. We complement
one another very well."
Are you looking forward to starting
your own family?
"As I love children, becoming a father has
always been on my mind, and family for me is
Have you thought about how you will
bring up your children?
"To me, the most important element in
educating children is not to squash them. I
plan to help Lissy in everything: I love to
cook and I will definitely enjoy sharing the
care of our children. I don't believe much in
nannies: it's very important to bond with
your children and not to rely always on the
nanny to do the parents' job!"
What are your ties with
"Tuscany is part of my family's history.
As head of the Tuscan branch of the
Habsburgs, I feel deeply not only about these
historical ties, but also about the people
and the beauty of Tuscany."
As Grand Master of the Order of Saint
Stephen, you're in a position to help others:
what are your priorities?
"I would like to concentrate my efforts
especially towards helping children and old
people who are abandoned or not properly
loved or cared for -- ours can be an abusive
society. Although I love science, the arts,
etc., I treasure human beings above all."
Do you think that the aristocracy
nowadays takes its responsibilities
"I think we should all take our
responsibilities seriously, regardless of our
position. As a member of the aristocracy I
think you have a moral duty in the way you
Do you plan to live in Tuscany some
"I would like to own a villa at some
point, and have a small production of wine
and olive oil. Having a home in Tuscany would
make Lissy and me even closer to the
Tell us what you value most in
"Honesty, being true to myself, and having
an open mind. Most of all I value the people
I love, because if you don't love, you miss
out in life."
INTERVIEWS: GAETANA ENDERS
PHOTOS: SVEN ARNSTEIN
ALL PROCEEDS FROM THESE INTERVIEWS HAVE
BEEN DONATED TO CHARITY THROUGH THE ORDER OF
SAINT STEPHEN IN TUSCANY.
Reprinted on the Internet with permission