Friday, January 20, 2017

Henri Sends Message of Congratulations to Donald Trump

On January 20th, Grand Duke Henri sent a message of congratulations to Donald Trump in honor of the inauguration. The text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr President,

Together with the Grand Duchess I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of your inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America.

The historical ties of friendship that unite our countries mean much to all of us in Luxembourg.

We wish you all the possible success for your mission as Head of State and we hope for a continued excellent transatlantic relationship.

Henri
Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Henri Receives the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Photo: ©2017 Cour grand-ducale / tous droits réservés
On the 20th, Grand Duke Henri received in audience Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who is the current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a role he has held since September of 2014. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is also a prince and a member of the Hashemite House; but, per UN policy, he does not use his title in his official role as High Commissioner.

Alois Attends the Austrian-Liechtenstein Society Reception

Photo: IKR
On the 18th, Hereditary Prince Alois was in Vienna to attend and speak at the New Year's Reception for the Austrian-Liechtenstein Society (ÖLI). This event marks the organization's 10-year anniversary and represents its ongoing commitment to maintaining the strong ties between the two countries. 

Princess Maria-Pia, who is Liechtenstein's Ambassador to Austria and the Czech Republic (and previously served as the Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union), also attended the event. Director General Karl Stoss, who is the President of the Austrian-Liechtenstein Society, was awarded the Order of the Principality of Liechtenstein in recognition for his decade of commitment to furthering the society's goals.

A little more information here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume Visits Hein Workshops

Photo: Anouk Antony / Luxemburger Wort / Wort.lu
On the 18th, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume was in Strassen to visit the workshops of the Hein company, which specializes in the production of ovens for bread-making. These ovens are used from Paris to New York, and the Hereditary Grand Duke was there to recognize the company's 135th anniversary.

Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider, who is also the Minister of the Economy, was present for the visit.

A little more from Wort.

Hereditary Prince Alois Meets with Ukrainian Leader

On the 18th, Hereditary Prince Alois met with Petro Poroshenko in what the latter described as a "historic meeting." He also commented on the potential for an ongoing bilateral relationship, and reports of the meeting included a discussion about trade and investment opportunities between the two countries.

A little more information here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Future Title of Princess Tessy of Luxembourg

Earlier this evening, the cour grand-ducale announced that Prince Louis and Princess Tessy would divorce after ten years of marriage and two children together. Almost immediately, we were asked about a few more details. We will address the ones regarding titles, styles and names in a moment, but first let us express how sad we are for Prince Louis, Princess Tessy, Prince Gabriel, Prince Noah and all involved. I am sure we all wish the family well during this trying time, especially the young princes. Here on Luxarazzi - and I hope everywhere else out there - we will refrain from any speculation about personal matters and respect the privacy of everyone involved. We hope that they can find the long-term happiness apart that they couldn't find together and remain friends for the sake of their sons.

Prince Louis married the former - and probably future - Tessy Antony on September 29, 2006, at the parish church of Gilsdorf after a legal wedding at the palais grand-ducal. The couple had become the parents of a boy, Gabriel, about half a year earlier. He was soon followed by a brother, Noah, in September 2007. On August 22, 2006, a little more than a month before his marriage, Prince Louis renounced his succession rights to the Luxembourgish throne. The decision was made as not to give an advantage to any future children. His oldest son, Gabriel, would not have been able to inherit succession rights anyway as he was born out of wedlock. At the time, Princess Tessy was simply known as Tessy de Nassau taking the legal last name of the Grand Ducal Family. Accordingly, her sons were known as Gabriel de Nassau and Noah de Nassau.

The decision of Louis' wife and son only having the last name "de Nassau" and neither title nor style wasn't without precedent in the history of the Grand Ducal Family yet a decision against the Arrêté grand-ducal of September 21, 1995, which reorganised the styles, titles and surname of the Grand Ducal Family. The decree's Article 3 states, "The Princes of Our House who have entered into a marriage without the consent of the Head of the Family, along with their spouse, bear respectively the title of Count and Countess of Nassau. The descendants of these unions are qualified in the same way."

According to the 1995 decree, Prince Louis should have henceforth be known as Count Louis of Nassau and his family as Countess Tessy of Nassau and Count Gabriel of Nassau. However, Tessy was denied the usage of the title via a press release of Grand Duke Henri (while Louis remained a Prince of Luxembourg). On national day 2009, the Grand Duke made the announcement that Tessy de Nassau would be elevated to the rank of "Her Royal Highness Princess Tessy of Luxembourg". Her and Prince Louis' sons would henceforth be known as "His Royal Highness Prince Gabriel of Nassau" and "His Royal Highness Prince Noah of Nassau", just like any other grandchildren of the Grand Duke by children who are not the heir to the throne.

There should have been an official decree to go along with the press release allowing Tessy and her sons the usage of their titles and styles. However, we have never been able to locate said decree. (Unless there was some weird retroactive consent-giving going on like it happened in Belgium with Prince Amedeo.) There definitely were decrees in 1995 and 2004, respectively, that elevated the wives and children of Prince Jean and Prince Robert firstly to the rank of Counts and Countesses of Nassau and then Princes and Princesses of Nassau. Both decrees are publicly available. If there was no decree published along with the press release elevating Tessy, Gabriel and Noah, one would have a very good argument to question the validity of their titles and styles in the first place. (Yes, even the Grand Duke as Fountain of Honour cannot make title elevations by press release.)

In addition to the Grand Duke's signature, an act creating new titles of the nobility of Luxembourg also needs a countersignature by a member of the government as per Article 45 of the constitution, which says, "All provisions of the Grand Duke require the countersignature of a responsible member of the Government." Both the 1995 and 2004 decrees include the countersignatures, as do all other acts related to a title or the validation of a foreign title be they issued by Grand Duke Adolph, Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde, Grand Duchess Charlotte, Grand Duke Jean or Grand Duke Henri.

Speaking of countersignature... In 2012, a new House Law was introduced (which actually lacks the countersignature - but that is another topic for another day...), The Bylaws - again, lacking countersignature - concerning the House Law stipulate that "In case of a legal separation, a divorce or remarriage after death, the wives [of a member of the House] lose the style and title conferred upon them." (Article 4b) The same Article also states that "The use or the conferral of a style or title in the individual case cannot deduce either rights from the membership of the House or Family or consent to the marriage."

You would be right in thinking now that Princess Tessy will soon cease to be a princess and become Tessy Antony again, as she was known prior her marriage. However... This wouldn't be the Grand Ducal Family if there wasn't a twist to it: Tessy was elevated to the rank of "Her Royal Highness Princess Tessy of Luxembourg (* and the titles that go along with it)" in 2009. The House Law was introduced three years later. So, without knowing the exact wording of the decree creating her a Princess, you can't be entirely sure if the House Law actually is applicable to her case. There were a few instances - gender neutral succession, anyone? - in which the cour specifically stated that the House Law would not be applied retroactively. So it is questionable if it will be in the case of Princess Tessy's future title and style as the current ones were created prior to the introduction of the House Law.

If a decree actually exists somewhere and specifically mentions "Tessy de Nassau" being created "HRH Princess Tessy of Luxembourg etc." yet fails to mention the event of a divorce and what happens to her title in said event, one could make a serious case, that Tessy can actually keep her title. (Assuming that the decree is countersigned.) Looking back at the decrees of 1995 and 2004, both included a stipulation about divorces et al and what happens with titles and styles in the case it does happen.

For example, Article 4 of the 1995 decree reads as following, "In case of separation from the spouses, in case of divorce, in case of remarriage after death, the titles conferred to the spouses of the Princes of Our House by virtue of the present decree are lost." It is by this stipulation that Countess Hélène of Nassau, first wife of Prince Jean, reverted to her maiden name Hélène Vestur after her divorce. And despite all what we just wrote, we would still assume that the case of Princess Tessy will be handled in the same way, unless otherwise stated by the cour grand-ducale.

You could even make the case that one part of the 2012 House Law was written with Princess Tessy specifically in mind. Article 4b says, "In case of a legal separation, a divorce or remarriage after death, the wives lose the style and title conferred upon them." Tessy's title isn't based on the House Law, according to which she would also be a Countess of Nassau (while her husband could have kept his title as Prince of Luxembourg, in difference to the 1995 decree). Rather it is based on a (non-existent?) decree, so in her case it has been an actual "conferral of the title" instead of under the rights of another part of the same Article saying that "the members of the Grand Ducal House and the Grand Ducal Family, in all their official and private functions which may concern them, bear [...], those who conducted a marriage without the consent of the Head of the House, the family name "zu Nassau" ("de Nassau") as well as their previous title. The wives and legitimate offspring of this marriage bear their first name and the family name "zu Nassau" ("de Nassau") as well as the title Count or Countess of Nassau."

As you can see, you can make many cases on this matter. The most likely one, following precedent, is that Princess Tessy will soon be known as "Tessy Antony" again. In Luxembourg, a woman who is part of a mutual consent (no-fault) divorce cannot retain her husband's surname without his consent. Yet you can also see that there are many twists and turns in this explanation and the way the Grand Ducal Family has handled these matters in the past, so you never really know.

One thing is for sure though, Princess Tessy has been a real asset to the family and we hope that she continues to very much be a part of the family no matter what the future and the title question holds, much as it has been the case with Hélène Vestur.

Statement by Princess Tessy on Divorce

Princess Tessy apparently released a statement to some media today concerning her divorce from Prince Louis also announced by the cour grand-ducale. She said, "I am very sad to confirm that Louis and I are getting divorced after 12 years together. Despite our separation, we will always remain unified by parenthood to our two precious boys. It is extremely sad for both of us to realise that we will walk separate life paths from now on. In these challenging times, I ask for privacy for both of us and especially the privacy of our children to be respected. No further comment will be given at this stage."

Louis and Tessy To Divorce

"Their Royal Highnesses The Grand Duke and The Grand Duchess are regretting to announce the decision of Prince Louis and Princess Tessy to divorce", the cour grand-ducale just announced. The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess are asking everyone to respect the privacy of all involved in these sad times.

Prince Louis and Princess Tessy got married on September 29, 2006 and celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary last year. The couple share two sons, Gabriel (* March 12, 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland) and Noah (*September 21, 2007 in Luxembourg). After initially being known as Tessy de Nassau after her wedding, the former Tessy Antony became a Princess of Luxembourg on national day 2009.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Princess' Right to the Throne

Princess Charlotte with her brothers, from left to right,
Prince Paul-Louis, Prince Jeand and Prince Léopold
(Photo: Guy Jallay / Luxemburger Wort / Wort.lu)
In 2010, Grand Duke Henri changed the law of succession to the Luxembourgish throne to make it gender neutral. The change was communicated around national day a year later in 2011. Those who have been around long enough in the royal watching community will remember that things were a bit messy back then: First, Princess Alexandra had succession rights, then she didn't, and then it turned out that she indeed had them after all. The question of another Luxembourgish princess was much less discussed around that time: Princess Charlotte of Nassau, only daughter of Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla.

Prince Guillaume is the only of the Grand Duke's siblings to possess succession rights to the Luxembourgish throne. Archduchess Marie-Astrid's and Princess Margaretha's rights have only ever been very theoretical to begin with: Prior to 2010, females in the Grand Ducal Family were never in the line of succession per se but only allowed to succeed if there was no male member of the family with succession rights left. This was the case for both Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide and Grand Duchess Charlotte. The fifth child of Grand Duke Jean, Prince Jean, renounced his rights to the Luxembourgish throne a few weeks after the birth of his daughter Marie-Gabrielle, who was born out of wedlock. As for the other two male-line members of the Grand Ducal Family: Prince Robert married without consent and at least can't pass on a right to the throne - it's debatable whether he still has them himself - and Princess Charlotte never really had them, similar to her cousins Marie-Astrid and Margaretha.

The décret grand-ducal of September 16, 2010, states the following:
We Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau

after inspection of the “Nassauischer Erbverein” of June 30, 1783, as well as changes and amendments, mainly by the family bylaw concerning the house law of May 5, 1907,

after the approval of the agnatic council


declare and command:

Art 1) The furthermore unchanged "Erneuerter Nassauischer Erbverein"  of June 30, 1783, is amended and supplemented as follows

a) Article 24, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 1 is replaced by the following

"1) The order of succession in every possible way, in which the right of the first born child without exception is to be respected,"

b) Article 24, Paragraph 2 and 3 become Paragraph 2 and are replaced by the following

"Regarding the order of succession (Paragraph 1), We felt called upon, in case of death or abdication of a reigning Grand Duke, not to limit the right to succeed to the throne to the male line, but to introduce primogeniture regardless of gender, to confirm and to substantiate, so that the inheritance of the throne will go and remain with the oldest child of a reigning Grand Duke. The order of succession will be applied for the first time to Our descendants."

c) Article 26 is replaced by the following
"If the head of the house dies without marital heirs of the blood, his siblings and their descendants inherit the throne and the Grand Ducal entail in order of the firstborn child, as long as they are in the line of succession. If the head of the house has no siblings, this is valid for his next-related house- or family members. "
There is also an additional Article, part of the bylaws concerning the House Law, giving female members of the Grand Ducal Family the right to vote in matters concerning the family council. However, the further Article (much like the one above) does not fail to mention, that it is first applied to "Our [Grand Duke Henri's] descendants". The changes were confirmed by the new version of the Nassauischer Erbverein, published in 2012. Only Article 24 is slightly reworded:
As far as it concerns the order of succession (Paragraph 1), the right to inherit the throne after the abdication or the death of a reigning Grand Duke has the first child, regardless of gender, of him. This order of succession is applied for the first time to Our descendants.
Once again, there is no fail of mention, that the changes apply for the first time to the descendants of Grand Duke Henri. Apart from the Grand Duke himself, there is only one other member of his generation passing on succession rights, his youngest brother Prince Guillaume. Prince Guillaume has three sons: Prince Paul-Louis, Prince Léopold and Prince Jean. However, he also has a daughter: Princess Charlotte. While his three sons have had the right to succeed to the Luxembourgish throne since their birth, his daughter Charlotte apparently still doesn't. (I say apparently as you never know with the cour grand-ducale, see the case of Princess Alexandra above. Plus, the cour has failed to answer the question thus far even after being asked repeatedly.)

I don't think anyone expected Grand Duke Henri's sisters to ever gain succession rights but why exclude Princess Charlotte? I doubt the young princess cares very much - after all she would only be tenth in line to the throne as of now with lots of cousins and brothers of child-having age ahead of her, which means that she would likely drop further down the line in years to come - but wouldn't have been as easy to apply the changes to the line of succession to all descendants to prince's house able to succeed to the throne?

Thinking this further, it actually means that we have two different succession rights in two different lines of the Grand Ducal Family. While the line of Grand Duke Henri practises absolute primogeniture (meaning that the first born child regardless of their gender is called upon to succeed to the throne), the line of Prince Guillaume practises a semi-salic law, which allows women to succeed only at the extinction of all the male descendants in the male line. In the future, this will also apply to further descendants of Prince Guillaume's line. Any grandsons in male-line will find their place in the order of succession (provided that their parents' marriage received the Grand Duke's written consent), while granddaughters will remain excluded. However unlikely and heaven forbid, but if Grand Duke Henri's line were to die out, Luxembourg would be back to the same old law of succession practised prior to 2010 giving no right whatsoever to women as long as a male relative is alive.

See our translations of the Family Pact (2012) and the bylaws concering the house law for further information on legal matters in the Grand Ducal Family.

Grand Duke and Grand Duchess Cancel Engagement Due to Health Reasons

Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa cancelled an engagement on Thursday night due to health reasons. They were scheduled to attend an event for Luxembourgers and refugees to have a meal together organised by the city of Luxembourg together with the associations "Passerell" and "Reech eng Hand". Sounds like Their Royal Highnesses came down with a cold or something - here's wishing a speedy recovery to the couple!