As the eldest child and only daughter of the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims and one of the world's richest men, Princess Zahra, 26, could have had her pick of princes. Instead, she found the man of her dreams in Mark Boyden, a handsome British management consultant and farmer's son nearly ten years her senior.
Mark met Zahra through a mutual friend while holidaying in France. The pair soon found they had a lot in common: Zahra had studied Third World development, while Mark graduated in business ethics and human rights. Moreover, both are involved in the family business, Mark with his father's farm and Zahra with her father's philanthropic foundation based in Chantilly, France, where she dedicates herself to women's issues in Asia and Africa.
Three years on, their wedding was a lavish affair, consisting of two separate ceremonies attended by family and close friends, followed in the evening by a ball for around 800 guests, among them an impressive number of royals and distinguished figures from the worlds of finance, culture and politics.
First, there was a religious ceremony celebrated at the historic Chateau de Chantilly, 30 miles north of Paris. This included both readings from the Koran and the blessing of the Anglican Church to which the groom belongs. Then, the couple were married again in a civil ceremony held in the Aga Khan's mansion in nearby Aiglemont, and conducted by the Mayor of Gouvieux, Patrice Marchand.
The only missing piece of the jigsaw was the bride's mother, Princess Salimah, nee Sally Croker-Poole, who was divorced from the Aga Khan in 1994, after 25 years of marriage, who's said to be delighted with the match, flung her own pre-wedding party at Claridge's in London for over 500 people. On the exclusive guest list were Princess Margaret and Farah Diba, the former Empress of Iran.
Apart from Princess Zahra, Sally and the Aga Khan had two more children together, Princes Rahim and Hussain, both of whom attended their sister's wedding.
Zahra is said to take after her father but, whatever the similarities, a taste for jet-settting isn't among them. This makes her well-suited to her country-loving new husband. She's also extremely serious about her work and intends to take up where she left off after the pair return from their honeymoon in South America.
So won't there be a geographical hitch? Not exactly. The newlyweds plan to divide their time between homes in France and Britain.
Source: Hello Magazine
#465, July 5, 1997
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