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Blairs PR man bags a princess

A former pizza parlour assistant turned Tony Blair fundraiser married a princess in a fairytale wedding at the weekend.

Afterwards PR millionaire Anthony Bailey and his new wife - great grandaughter of the Austro-Hungarian royal whose assassination triggered WW1 - held reception in the mountaintop castle made famous in the film 'Where Eagles Dare.'

Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg of Austria's marriage to Bailey in Salzburg was the social occasion of the year.

The three-day celebrations this weekend for Bailey and the 35-year-old descendant of Archduke Franz Ferdinand cost more than a million pounds and were the talk of European society for their extraordinary splendour.

Debonair Bailey, 37, who helped raise £8 million for Blair's city academies, and Princess Marie-Therese invited 600 guests to the lavish nuptials.

Guest included at least a dozen European princes and princesses - not to mention the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, plus two princes and one princess bearing the name Haile-Selassie of Ethiopia.

The British contingent includes former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Bishop Thomas Burns, plus Labour luminaries including Attorney General Baroness Scotland, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Labour peer Lord Alli and MPs Claire Curtis-Thomas, Siobhain McDonagh and Joan Ryan.

One of Bailey's witnesses was Lord Nicholas Windsor - Anthony is his official spokesman - who attended with his wife Paola and their newborn son Albert.

The only worthy missing was former prime minister Blair, who is busy in his role as a Middle East peace envoy.

In an event that is a far cry from the bridegroom's humble roots in West London - Bailey went to a Roman Catholic comprehensive in Ickenham - guests started the celebration with a welcoming dinner at the fortress Festung Hohensalzburg.

The nuptial mass at the Archabbey of St Peter's on Saturday was followed by a reception in the Salzburg Festival Hall and a glamorous white-tie ball at Austria's former royal palace, the Residence of Salzburg.

As if that wasn't enough, the couple also hosted a magnificent farewell brunch at Salzburg's Museum of Modern Art yesterday.

Bailey, whose father is a retired engineer and whose mother fosters abused children, worked for global PR firm Burston-Marsteller before starting his own company. Due to his work as an inter-faith campaigner, he was recently appointed chairman of Labour's Faith Taskforce.

He first met his bride, who works as an architect, 14 years ago, and they started dating last year before Bailey proposed on New Year's Eve.

austriantimes.at


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