Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Citizenship for Stephanie a Hot Issue

The bill put before the Chamber of Deputies to grant citizenship to Countess Stephanie de Lannoy upon her marriage to The Hereditary Grand Duke is stirring debate in Luxembourg.

While the bill is expected to easily pass some members of the chamber clearly will not vote in favor of granting citizenship to the new Hereditary Grand Duchess.    The fact that Stephanie is in a unique and special situation seems to be lost on certain parts of the population and some political parties. Stephanie is already under extreme pressure to quickly learn the Luxembourgish language and immediately integrate into the culture. While normal immigrants also experience pressure it cannot seriously be compared to the expectations that politicians, the Grand Ducal Family and the public already have for Countess Stephanie. She will NOT be given seven years to integrate or learn the language. I doubt if she will even receive the courtesy of having a full year to learn Luxembourgish before complaints begin about how long it is taking her to learn the language.

Granting citizenship to the new spouse of the monarch or heir to the throne is nothing new to The Grand Duchy. It is a long established tradition! When Grand Duchess Charlotte married Prince Felix de Bourbon de Parme in 1919 he was granted citizenship, a title and admitted to the nobility of Luxembourg on the occasion of his marriage. Princess Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium received citizenship when she married then Hereditary Grand Duke Jean in 1953. Most recently, when Maria Teresa Mestre married the current Grand Duke in 1981 she became a citizen of Luxembourg. While I cannot find any documents to prove that Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal became a citizen of Luxembourg when she married Grand Duke Adolphe's heir in 1893, I feel rather confident that the tradition of citizenship began with her. It isn't simply a Luxembourg tradition. I cannot think of a single European monarchy that doesn't grant citizenship to foreigners when they marry into their ruling families. The situations of Princess Maxima, Crown Princess Mary, Princess Marie and Princess Alexandra (now Countess) spring to mind. If a woman enters into an approved marriage with a Prince of Liechtenstein she automatically gains citizenship.

Have any of those complaining about and debating this issue considered the legal problems that could arise if she doesn't become a citizen of Luxembourg? In a few short weeks Countess Stephanie de Lannoy, an ordinary citizen of Belgium with no extra ordinary privileges or protections, will become Her Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. From that moment on, she will be expected to dedicate her entire life to Luxembourg, her people and her interests. So, what happens if she remains just an ordinary citizen of Belgium? Keep in mind that Stephanie's noble title and lineage do not earn her any special legal protections in Belgium or abroad. What if in her capacity as The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg or later as The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg she is required to travel overseas on a state visit or some other government initiated mission? Will this ordinary citizen of Belgium who happens to be a member of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg be granted protection, accommodation and other necessary legal privileges to carry out her role?

Is it truly fair to expect Stephanie to give up her career, freedom, and the ability to really control her own future in exchange for a lifetime of service to Luxembourg without the gift of citizenship? Honestly, I think that if people and the government want Stephanie to remain an ordinary citizen of Belgium then they shouldn't require any official duties from her for the seven years it would take her to earn citizenship on her own.

Stephanie isn't marrying any old prince. She is marrying the heir. She is the future Grand Duchess and her first child will one day be the Grand Duke or Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. I can't see the point in complaining about giving "special status" when everything about her situation and her marriage is special. If you are a member of government in a nation that is a monarchy you simply have to have enough common sense to know that certain members of the ruling family (the monarch, consort, heir and heir's consort) must by the very nature of the system enjoy special status.

I don't necessarily think that marriage should always come with the gift of citizenship but in the case of members of the Grand Ducal Family exceptions simply must be made.

Source: Wort

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