IN the late 1960s a young German Princess was expanding her life experience by looking after the children of a titled German in Somalia, East Africa.
When she heard that the brother of her employer and family friend who was in Kenya with clients was going to travel to Somalia, she was quite excited until it was realized that there were insufficient bedrooms in the house, so she had to leave and fly to England.
The couple literally met at the airport in Mogadishu and whilst they had a chat it rather looked as if that was the last they would ever see of each other, even though they detected an immediate spark.
Count Rudolf von Schönburg wasn’t of a retiring nature however and followed Princess Marie-Louise of Prussia to London and started his campaign to woo her, saying at one time “If you like me in London, you’ll love me in Marbella!”
Despite the fact that she was irritated that she had been forced to leave Somalia before she was ready, the great-granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II must have seen something special in her suitor as in 1971 they married in the Castle Donaueschingen Germany and then returned to Marbella where Rudi as he is generally known was helping to run the Marbella Club.
Not content to simply be part of the family of Lotus Eaters who were making Marbella a trendy and popular destination, the Princess shared her time between acting as a hostess at numerous parties and devoting time to raising funds for UNICEF.
With the birth of two children, Frederic who is now a hotelier in London and Sophie whose God Mother is Queen Sofia, cousin of Marie-Louise she devoted more time to looking after them and she cut back on her charitable causes.
Now the children have grown and the couple have two grand-children, they are looking forward to spending a first Christmas with her three year-old grandson.
Christmas Eve will see her baking cookies and enjoying a meal with her family and the former nanny of her two grown up children and then they will all go into Marbella to hear Midnight Mass.
Now in their 47th year of marriage the couple continue to be recognised as part of the fabric of Marbella society with Rudi still present at Marbella Club which he started working for 61 years ago and Marie-Louise raising funds for her HIV/AIDS charity Concordia.