Lady of Spain
updated 04/03/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 04/03/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT
But in Spain—which hadn't seen a royal wedding in 89 years—the March 18 nuptials of the Infanta (or Princess) Elena María Isabel Dominica de Silos de Borbón y Grecia, 31, the daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, to Jaime de Marichalar y Saénz de Tejada, a 31-year-old banker with Crédit Suisse in Paris, were deemed perfectamente bien. "It's not just a wedding," proclaimed the newspaper Diario 16, "it's a social phenomenon participated in and applauded by the whole country."
And by plenty of visiting royals. Members of 38 royal families—including Princes Rainier and Albert of Monaco and the Sultan of Brunei—flew in for the three-day celebration, which culminated in a wedding mass at the Cathedral of Seville. (Prince Charles arrived minutes before the mass and returned to England immediately afterward to catch Prince Harry's performance in his school play that night.)
The first of King Juan Carlos's three children to wed (daughter Cristina is 29; son Felipe is 26), Elena met Jaime in 1987 when she was studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris and he was working at the Indosuez bank there. They courted discreetly for years, meeting at equestrian shows and on trips with friends, before announcing their engagement last fall.
Although Jaime is not of royal blood, many Spaniards seemed enchanted by Elena and her down-to-earth groom. At an all-night party hosted jointly by Elena and Jaime March 16 at a friend's hacienda, 300 friends saluted the couple by doing a stadium-style wave and shouting ¡Ole! Crowds spent the night before the ceremony singing and dancing in the streets.
Lest the Borbóns be criticized, as other royal families have been, for spending public funds too freely, King Juan Carlos footed nearly $400,000 of the total bill, and the couple, who will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Lugo, will receive no royal stipend. That might crimp the newlyweds' style when they start looking for new digs in Paris. "It's hard to rent an apartment if you're the husband of the Infanta of Spain," says a friend. "Landlords automatically put the rent up."