MONTEVIDEO – Laëtitia D’Arenberg, known as “Princess Laetitia,” is the person most resembling royalty in a republican country like Uruguay, to which she came 66 years ago seeking to free herself from the responsibilities that went with her European noble title.
Of French nationality, the entrepreneur and philanthropist spoke with EFE about her life in the South American nation from the very beginning, including how she has prospered in the thriving cattle and dairy businesses she currently owns.
D’Arenberg came to Uruguay in 1950. Her father – the Marquis of Belzunce – had died in the 1944 Battle of Montecassino in Italy, having seen her only once as a baby.
Her mother remarried, this time to Prince Erick Engelbert, the 11th duke of D’Arenberg, who raised her and gave his surname to both her and her brother Rodrigo.
“(The noble title) closed more doors to me than it opened,” she said, adding that it only opened doors for her with a certain circle of people “in a world of insecure people.”
The princess said that people “judge prematurely and imagine that people with titles are all scoundrels, thieves, murderers” who have “hurt everyone.”
“But the nobility has not always been a scourge. There are marvelous people,” she said.
D’Arenberg was ranked No. 9 on the list of the country’s 120 richest people published in January 2014 by the Uruguayan publication.
As the owner of the Las Rosas ranch in central Uruguay, which produced the world’s best horse in 2014, the Arabian “Excalibur,” and the tourist estate Lapataia, in the Punta del Este resort community, D’Arenberg has carved out for herself a place among the members of Uruguayan high society, as well as among the country’s rural producers.
“Life taught me many things and I always knew how to accept the controversies of life, above all trying to understand others,” she said.
Although she praises many of Uruguay’s characteristics and calls it a “garden,” she also acknowledges that it has its shortcomings such as needing to push for greater openness to the world, improve opportunities for people – above all in its rural areas – recover lost values and solve what she calls the “don’t-don’t” problem: namely that of young people who don’t study and don’t work.
D’Arenberg calls for “having the humility to accept” when things go badly because “you can always find a helping hand somewhere.”