Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (Maria Laura Zita Beatrix Gerhard, born 26 August 1988) is the second child and oldest daughter of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. She was born at the University Clinic St. Luc, Woluwe-St-Lambert, Belgium and is currently seventh in line to the Belgian throne.
Maria Laura has one older brother, Amedeo (b. 1986), one younger brother, Joachim (b. 1991) and two younger sisters: Luisa Maria (b. 1995) and Laetitia Maria (b. 2003).
Maria Laura was raised until 1993 in Basel, Switzerland, at which point her parents relocated to Belgium. She was educated, like her siblings and younger cousins, at the Jesuit school College Sint Jan Berchmans in Brussels. She completed her secondary education at the St. John’s International School in Waterloo, Belgium, during which time she was involved in a minor accident . She then went to London, and attended SOAS in London, where she studied Chinese. In 2007–2008, she spent time in China as part of her studies. She then enrolled at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales in Paris in 2008, where she is still studying.
Princess Astrid has guarded the private lives of her children, and Princess Maria Laura has thus made very few public appearances. She appeared in family photos, and at the marriages of her uncles Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant in 1999 and Prince Laurent of Belgium in 2003. She has appeared with her mother a few times, including the wedding of her second cousin Marie-Christine to Count Rodolphe van Limburg-Stirum.
The Princess is fluent in French, Dutch, and German, the three official languages of Belgium, as well as English.