Maria Teresa was born in 22 March 1956 in Marianao, Havana, Cuba, to José Antonio Mestre y Álvarez (Vedado, Havana, 1926–1993) and wife (m. Vedado, Havana, 1951) María Teresa Batista y Falla de Mestre (Vedado, Havana, 1928–1988), both from bourgeois families of Spanish descent.
The Mestre family have as their patriarch Arnau Mestre, born Landorthe, who married in 1625 in San Pedro de Ribas. One of his descendants, Francisco Mestre y Roig Benaprés (born in 1787 in Sitges) travelled to Cuba in 1830 where he married Josefa Dominguez y Morales (born in 1764, daughter of Andres Domínguez Bencomo and Manuela Morales Ponce de León), being the founder of the Mestre family in Cuba. The Grand Duchess also descends through her father from the Spanish Espinosa de los Monteros noble family.
Her maternal grandparents were Don Agustín Batista y González de Mendoza (Batista family member with possessions in the town of Puerto de Santa María del Príncipe and no family relationship with Fulgencio Batista), Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Trust Company of Cuba and Doña María Teresa Falla Bonet, daughter of the Spanish tycoon Laureano Falla Gutierrez, millionaire businessman whose fortune was made up of several sugar mills, two banks (one of which is “The Trust Company of Cuba”) and other goods which were confiscated by the government of the Revolution.
In October 1959, at the time of the revolution, Maria Teresa Mestre left Cuba with her parents. The family settled in New York City, where, as a young girl, she was a pupil at Marymount School. From 1961 she carried on her studies at the Lycée Français de New York. In her childhood, Maria Teresa Mestre took ballet and singing courses. She practices skiing, ice-skating and water sports. She lived in New York City, Santander, Spain, and Geneva.
In 1980 she graduated from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva with a degree in political sciences.