When Luann de Lesseps announced that she got engaged to entrepreneur Thomas D'Agostino earlier this month, we couldn't be happier for The Real Housewives of New York City 'Wife. However, we also couldn't help but wonder what would happen to Luann's countess title once she remarries.
As you may recall, when we first met Luann, she was married to Alexandre de Lesseps, a count descended from Ferdinand de Lesseps of France whose family helped build the Suez Canal and deliver the Statue of Liberty to the United States. Though Luann and Alex split in 2009, she remained a countess as a courtesy title. But now that Luann is about to remarry, will she be able to bring her title with her?
Unfortunately, once Luann marries Thomas, we will technically not be able to call her a countess anymore. "Once she marries, she no longer can use that name," Marlene Eilers Koenig, an expert on British and European royalty who runs the blog Royal Musings, told The Daily Dish. "She can use her new husband’s name or revert to her maiden name."
If Thomas had a title, Luann would also take on that new title when she marries him, according to Myka Meier, the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette. What's more, if Alex remarries in the future, his new wife will then become Countess de Lesseps, she said.
If Luann does decide to change her name upon marrying Thomas, the proper way to notify others about it would be to send formal notes on nice card stock paper to her entire network, not only to family and friends but also to anyone with which she may regularly do business or may have lost touch. "Just as there are birth announcements that you'd send out, there are also name announcements, and that would be completely normal and acceptable and highly recommended," Myka told The Daily Dish. "I think that there will be a lot of questions about her new title and what they should call her, and, especially losing a countess [title], I think most people are already wondering that now. So she will probably want to put all those at ease so she doesn't have any awkward interactions, especially publicly or with the media. I would advise anybody in this situation do that."
However, it can take some time to get used to calling someone by his or her new name, so Luann is bound to have some of those awkward interactions where people continue to call her "Countess Luann" or "Countess de Lesseps" in the future. And when that does happen, Luann shouldn't be afraid to correct them. "I think the best thing to do is as it happens, just very, very sweetly do correct them and just lean in and say, 'Oh, it's Mrs. D'Agostino now,'" Myka said. "Just very nicely and very politely so they're not embarrassed because they were using that title to show respect. So I think the proper etiquette would just be very politely to correct them and so they don't do it again."
Of course, being a countess is very much a part of Luann's public persona. Not only is she often referred by that title in the media, but her book is titled Class with the Countess and her EVINE Live clothing line is called The Countess Collection. So there's always the possibility that she may want to continue to use the title even after she marries Thomas. "She may want to do that. However, it would technically be incorrect to do so, especially if her ex-husband does remarry, that might be seen as a disrespect to the new titled lady. It's completely up to her in terms of what she goes by in her personal persona and professionally as she's a public figure," Myka said. "I think if she decides to keep it for show business reasons, that's something completely separate and would just never be recognized internationally as a formality. That would be something that's more a stage name at this point."
But no matter what happens to Luann's title, we'll always remember her as the Countess.
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