Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pope Meets Diplomatic Corps

Photo: Screenshot - The Vatican
About a week ago on March 22nd, Pope Francis met with about 180 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See and their spouses at the Sala Regia. Among those present were Liechtenstein's non-resident ambassador Prince Nikolaus and his wife Princess Margaretha, the younger daughter of Grand Duke Jean.

A news report can be found here and here you can see a video of the whole audience. Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus can be spotted a couple of times during the Pope's speech as they are prominentely seated and when they are greeted by His Holyness afterwards (at around 19:22).

Source: Rome Reports

Friday, March 29, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Eemaischen

With Easter Monday fast approaching, it is time for yet another lesson about Luxembourgish traditions, namely Eemaischen, or Éimaischen, or sometimes even Emaischen, nobody really seems to be sure.

However spelled correctly, the name derives from Emmaus, an ancient town located close to Jerusalem, and the place of one of the early resurrection appearances of Jesus. For those not too well-versed in the Bible: On their way to Emmaus Cleopas and another unnamed disciple encountered Jesus without recognising him. They expressed their sorrow about the recent events that had occured in Jerusalem and then persuaded the stranger to have supper with them; only during the course of the meal, they recognised him as Jesus. (Luke 24:13-32)

Little Prince Guillaume with his
parents and a Péckvillchen.
(Photo: Thierry Martin)
Every year on Easter Monday, Eemaischen is celebrated in the City of Luxembourg, around the Fishmarket, and in the village of Nospelt. It most important feature are the Péckvillecher, little handmade earthenware whistles shaped like birds.

It is often said that the bird whistles were traditionally given to each other by lovers but there does not seem to be historical prove to the claim. Today they seem especially popular with children.

On Easter Monday the potters traditionally celebrated the feast of the guild at the Église Saint-Michel, the mass was followed by a pottery market. Even though believed to be much older, the first official mention of Eemaischen occurred in 1827, when a police official suggested to the town council to move it to the Fishmarket in order to reduce the noise in front of the church.

The majority of the Péckvillecher came from the nearby village of Nospelt, where many potters were located since at least 1458. During the day they manufactured all kinds of pottery and in the evening they used the leftover red-brown clay to form the little bird whistles.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Eemaischen changed from being a sole pottery market to a market for all kinds of products. In 1914, the pottery production in Nospelt ended and from then on, the Eemaischen festival declined though whistles, imported from the German Eiffel region, were still sold.

Princess Margaretha, Prince Henri,
Prince Jean, Princess Marie-Astrid and
Hereditary Grand Duchess Joséphine-
Charlotte at the Eemaischen in 1962
(Photo: René Weydert /
The history of Eemaischen as it is known today started in 1937 when some inhabitants of the old town revived the old tradition. To this day the Comité Alstad organises the festival. In 1938, Jean Peters of Reckental produced the first Luxembourgish Péckvillecher in more than twenty years using the same red-brown clay from Nospelt. Since 1957, the festival has also been celebrated in Nospelt itself.

Today, Eemaischen is much more than a simple pottery market. All kinds of arts as well as food and drinks can be bought at the market. In addition there is a series of events, dance and musical acts performed in the old town.

(For more information about the events taking place have a look at Wort.)

As the Péckvillecher never look quite the same, they are much loved collectibles. The children of the Grand Ducal Family have been avid collectors themselves as members of the family can regularly be seen at the Eemaischen festival.

Many more pictures of the Eemaischen throughout the years can be found at Wort. If you look closely, you will find various members of the Grand Ducal Family in the photos.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dutch Royals to Visit Luxembourg

The future King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are to visit the Grand Duchy on May 24th. It does not seem to be an official state visit but rather a simply meeting to officially get to know each other. It will be one of the first if not the very first foreign visit made by the couple that will ascend to the throne on April 30th.

Source: Het Koninklijk Huis

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Discussion and Awards

Earlier this month, the Crans Montana Forum organised a multi-day political and economic discussion forum on Africa and the South-South Cooperation titled "Africa in 2013, Upheavals and Challenges". The Grand Duke's brother Prince Jean, who has been long involved with the organisation, attended the event that was held in Brussels and handed out a few Prix de la Fondation awards. 

Pictures are located at the Flickr photostream of Kayode Fayemi and on the website of the Crans Montana Forum.

Source: CMF

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Nephew for Stéphanie and Guillaume

Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie's sister Isabelle and her husband Jean-Charles de le Court have welcomed their fifth child and second son on March 12th. The little boy's name is Nicodème and he was born in Luxembourg, where the family lives. Jean-Charles de le Court is the founder and managing director of a company that offers different consulting services.

Source: Carnet Mondain

EUSO 2013

Together with prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess were on hand to hand out the awards at the 13th European Union Science Olympiad yesterday afternoon.

Photo: EUSO 2013 Luxembourg
It is a science team competition for European Union secondary level school students who are 16 years of age or younger; each team has to complete two tasks at the competition. While the two German teams came in first and second at the Science Olympiad, Luxembourg won a silver and a bronze medal. Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume was the patron of the event.

A couple of pictures can be found over at Wort as well as on the Facebook page of the EUSO.

Source: EUSO 2013, Wort

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Wedding of Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus

Today, it's time for the third and last part of our mini series about all those Grand Ducal weddings happening in Luxembourg in the early 1980's. (Part one was about Princess Marie-Astrid and part two about Grand Duke Henri.)

Engagement day: Margaretha and Nikolaus with their parents
Shortly after her older sister Princess Marie-Astrid had announced her engagement to an Austrian archduke, Princess Margaretha got engaged to Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, third son of Prince Franz Josef II and Princess Gina. The engagement was announced by the cabinet office of the Principality on 8th December 1981 and they met the press in the Grand Duchy later on.

Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus had basically known each other for most of their lives as their parents had been friends for many years and the Grand Ducal Family had regularly spent their skiing holidays in the alpine principality, though it took them a hunt and the wedding festivities of then Hereditary Grand Duke Henri to get well acquainted and fall in love.

The groom arrived with his mother Princess Gina,
the bride on the arm of her father Grand Duke Jean
Princess Margaretha being the daughter of the Luxembourgish head of state and Prince Nikolaus being the son of Liechtenstein's reigning prince, this was in fact - if my memory serves me correctly - the last marital union between two reigning European houses.

As such, this wedding was of course a full blown state affair. Before the actual wedding, festivities and receptions were held in Liechtenstein. On 20th March 1982, the couple first got civilly married at the palais grand ducal and later religiously at the Cathédrale Notre Dame, just as two of the bride's older siblings had done before her.

Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus were civilly married by mayor Lydie Polfer, the religious wedding was celebrated by the Archbishop of Luxembourg Jean Hengen, the Apostolic Nuncio in Luxembourg Eugène Cardinale and the Bishop of Chur Dr. Johannes Vonderach. (Note: At the time Liechtenstein still belonged to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chur; the Archdiocese of Vaduz was only founded in 1997 to settle a few quarrels within the Diocese of Chur and reportedly against the will of the Princely Family.)

The wedding portrait
The wedding was attended by a whole string of royalty and nobility. Princess Margaretha chose her twin brother Prince Jean and her cousin Princess Sophie de Ligne to be her witnesses, Prince Nikolaus opted for his younger sister Princess Nora and Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, who would marry Princess Margaretha's cousin Princess Astrid of Belgium about one and a half years later.

The bridal children were Prince Nikolaus's niece Princess Tatjana of Liechtenstein, daughter of Prince Hans-Adam II and his wife née Countess Marie Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau, and nephew Prince Wenzeslaus, son of Prince Philipp and his wife née Isabelle de l'Arbre de Malander.

Just as Princess Marie-Astrid and the former Maria-Teresa Mestre had done before her, she chose French designer Balmain to be the man for her dress. She topped of her ensemble with pearl earrings belonging to her mother that had also been worn by her sister a month earlier and the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara, the Luxembourgish wedding tiara during that time.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inaugural Mass of Pope Francis

Photo: Dutch Photo Press
This morning thousands and thousands of people gathered at Vatican to see Pope Francis give his inaugural mass in St Peter's Square. Among the guests were Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa who were accompanied by their second son Prince Félix and Luxembourgish prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

Other attendants included the Grand Duke's sister Princess Margaretha and her husband Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein who came alongside their nephew Hereditary Prince Alois and his wife Hereditary Princess Sophie.

While the Grand Duchess rocked her privilège du blanc, both Grand Duke Henri and Prince Félix wore regular business suits. Princess Margaretha wore black as all other women in attendance, save for her aunt Queen Paola of the Belgians, and her husband wore tailcoat, most probably as he is Liechtenstein's non-resident ambassador to the Holy See.

Photo: RTL
After the inaugural mass, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess were among the dignitaries from 132 countries who were personally greeted by Pope Francis.

Wort has a gallery of visuals dedicated to the members of the Grand Ducal Family alone. More pictures can be found at Belga, APA, Tageblatt, RTL, Dutch Photo Press and basically all over the internet.

You can see Grand Duchess Maria Teresa greeting the Prince and Princess of Monaco in this AP Video (starting at 0:16), the whole event can be rewatched on the Youtube channel of the Vatican (you can see the members of the family at around 28:23, for example).

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Azerbaijani Ambassador

On March 13th, the new Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Luxembourg Fuad Iskandarov presented his credentials to Grand Duke Henri. Mr Iskandarov also serves as his country's ambassador to Belgium. During the audience he conveyed the greetings of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, in return the Grand Duke asked to convey his sincere greetings and best wishes to the president and the Azerbaijani people as it is standard procedure during these diplomatic meetings.

Source: News.Az

150 Years of Music *

Photo: Charles Soubry / Photothèque VdL
 Yesterday afternoon, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie attended a concert given by the Musique Militaire Grand-Ducale under the direction of Lt Jean-Claude Braun at the Cercle Cité. The event was organised by the Harmonie Municipale Luxembourg & Limpertsberg to celebrate their 150th anniversary.

Source: HMLL, CGD

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Galitzine Wedding

Those of you interested in royals other than the Grand Ducal Family or the other usual suspects, a.k.a. members of reigning houses, are probably aware that Prince Piotr Galitzine and his wife née Archduchess Maria-Anna of Austria announced the engagement of their third daughter Princess Alexandra to Thibault Lancksweert, son of Dominique Lancksweert and Countess Anne-Rose de Liedekerke, a while ago.

Now the families have set the wedding date and 1 September 2013 it is. The wedding is planned on a similar scale, scope and guest list as the wedding of Princess Alexandra's oldest sister Princess Xenia with a very good array of European royal- and nobility, including members of the extended Grand Ducal Family. As with Xenia's wedding, there will be a Russian Orthodox and a Catholic ceremony.

This also means that Prince Félix and Claire won't get married that weekend and most likely not on the weekend before or after.

In case you are wondering about the family connections... Princess Alexandra's mother Archduchess Maria-Anna is the oldest child of Archduke Rudolf of Austria, himself a son of Blessed Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, and his first wife née Countess Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov. This means that she is a first cousin of Archduke Carl-Christian of Austria and a second cousin to Grand Duke Henri and his siblings. Archduchess Maria-Anna also is a godmother to Luxembourg's very own Princess Alexandra and as the Galitzine's lived in Luxembourg for a couple of years, the children basically grew up together.

Source: Private

Luxarazzi 101: Privilège du Blanc

With the inauguration of Pope Francis coming up on Tuesday, it is time to have a look at what the leading royal ladies, including Luxembourg's very own Grand Duchess, will wear while at the Vatican.

Once upon a time there was a very strict dress code when being granted an audience with the pope. While men were required to wear a morning coat or white tie and tails, women had to wear full length black dresses and black veils, also known as mantillas, with one big exception: women with the privilège du blanc.

Even though these rules are no longer obligatory and most men wear normal business suits when meeting the pope as formal dress is now usually reserved for diplomatic audiences, the black and white rule is still upheld as a tradition by many. They won't throw you out of the Vatican if you turn up in another colour but you should be prepared for a media backlash if you decide to turn up in white without having the privilège du blanc. (Hi there, Cherie Blair!)

But who are those women who were allowed to wear white when visiting the Pope at the Vatican?
Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and Queen Sofia excercising
their privilege at the inauguration of Pope John Paul II
(Photo: Hola)
Traditionally this "privilege of the white" was given to the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, the Queens of Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Bavaria and Poland, the Grand Duchesses of Luxembourg and Lithuania, a few German Princesses as well as female Captain Regents of San Marino. They all had in common that they either were a Most Catholic Monarch / Most Catholic Majesty or the spouse thereof.

Simply being the wife of a Catholic monarch did not mean having the privilège du blanc, cases in point being the princesses of Liechtenstein and Monaco. (Yeah I know, we will get to that later on.) And even if you had it and were allowed to wear white in the presence of the pope, you did not have to, case in point Luxembourg's late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte who also at times chose to wear black.
Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte
with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in July 2000.
(Photo: Luxemburger Wort)
The Latin title of Rex Catholicissimus had been given to the above mentioned Catholic monarchs at different points in time as in the eyes of the church they embodied Catholic principles in their personal lives as well as their state policies. Much like the ruling title itself, the style of a Most Catholic Majesty was hereditary unless taken away by the pope.

Fast forward into the 21st century, most of those families whose heads had originally been entitled to the privilège du blanc are now living in republics and thus usually don't excercise their privilege anymore. In fact only three Most Catholic Majesties still remain: The King of Spain, the King of the Belgians and - even though not technically a majesty - the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

This means that only four women in the world have the right to wear white in the presence of the pope: Queen Sofia of Spain (as the wife of King Juan Carlos), Queen Paola of the Belgians (as the wife of King Albert II), Queen Fabiola of Belgium (as the wife of the late King Baudouin) and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg (as the wife of Grand Duke Henri). It must be one of the most exclusive clubs in the world!
Beatification of Pope John Paul II:
While Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wears white, the Princess of Asturias,
the Princess of Liechtenstein as well as princesses Margaretha, Marie-Astrid
and Maria-Anunciata wear black. Meanwhile all the men apart from Prince
Nikolaus, who wears white tie and tail, are in business suits.
 (Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images Europe / Zimbio)
But then in January this year Prince Albert and Princess Charlène of Monaco visited the Vatican to meet Pope Benedict XVI and the Princess shocked the royal watching scene by wearing white. Didn't she know? Was it a faux pas? Why didn't anyone tell her? The Vatican's press office soon issued the statement that "in accordance with prescribed ceremonial of the Vatican for Catholic sovereigns, the princess was allowed to dress in white".

What had happened? Nobody - at least in the public - really knows. It seems that the privilège du blanc has been extended to the Princess of Monaco; which traditionally would have meant that her husband must be a Most Catholic Majesty who represents Catholic values in both his personal life and his state policies. Ermm, yeah... Well... Anyways... Maybe the Vatican just got a little more relaxed with their rules.

This Tuesday will give us a chance to see whether Princess Charlène will excercise her new found privilege once again and whether - provided that she attends - Princess Marie of Liechtenstein was also granted with the privilège du blanc.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Festival of Migration, Cultures and Citizenship

Domingos Oliveira / RTL
This afternoon Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume ventured out of his home on his own to officially open of the Festival des migrations, des cultures et de la citoyenneté at the Luxexpo.

It was already the 30th edition of the festival celebrating migration, cultures and citizenship in the Greater Region consisting of Saarland, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Wallonia, the French Community of Belgium and the German-speaking Community of Belgium. Over the weekend about 350 stands offer culinary delights from around the world. In addition there is an art exhibition, concerts, dance presentations, lectures and much more.

Galleries of pictures are located at RTL and Wort. RTL also has a news report about the opening. Too bad the Hereditary Grand Duke didn't bring his lovely wife who has a bit of an migrant background - at least to Luxembourg - herself...

Source: Wort

Friday, March 15, 2013

50 Years Against Discrimination

Yesterday, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa attended the anniversary celebrations of the Ligue Luxembourgeoise pour le Secours aux Enfants, aux Adolescents et aux Adultes mentalement ou cérébralement handicapés or more simply Ligue HMC. Since 50 years the organisation now fights against all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities. During these years they especially raised awareness through counselling and training structures. 

Apart from cutting the cake, the Grand Duchess and the other guests were also introduced to a new book called "Step by Step" that outlines both the activities of the Ligue HMC as well as personal reports of disabled people. Also, a convention between the organisation and the city of Luxembourg was signed about jobs for people with disabilities.

A pictures and more information are available at the Lëtzebuerger Journal and MyWort.

Lëtzebuerger Journal

Papal Inauguration Mass **

In not the most surprising move of the week, the cour grand-ducale has announced that Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa will make their way to Rome to attend the mass of inauguration of Pope Francis. They will be accompanied by their second son Prince Félix who is based in Rome. Just yesterday we had a closer look at the last times they visited the Vatican.

Source: Cour grand-ducale

Hereditary Couple Hands Over Car

Back when Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie got married, they asked for donations to be made to social causes instead of gifts given to them. Besides a lot of money donated by various people, Renault Luxembourg donated a car to the Fonation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse.

Today the couple presented the car to the Association Luxembourg Alzheimer (ala). The Renault Clio has already been launched in Luxembourg on the weekend of their wedding but now it will be used in support of the Alzheimer foundation's three services, the social and coordination service, the psychological service and the ergotherapeutic service.

Two pictures of today can be found on the website of the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse, more are available on the website of the cour.

Source: Fonation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: The Grand Ducal Family at the Vatican

In the light of the recent events - Pope Benedict XVI stepping down and Pope Francis being elected as the new head of the Catholic church - we will have a (quite photo-heavy) look back at the Grand Ducal Family meeting the different popes over the last few decades.

Most of the members of the Grand Ducal Family are staunch Catholics though their family had actually been traditionally Protestants, much like the other branches of the House of Nassau.

The last Protestant monarch to reign Luxembourg was Grand Duke Guillaume / Wilhelm IV, the father of Grand Duchess Charlotte. He met the woman who would later become his wife for the first time in 1884, but he, at the time a simple Prince of Nassau, was not allowed to marry Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal as she was a Catholic and his father Duke Adolphe refused his consent.

Only a few years later fate intervened: Duke Adolphe became the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, a country which population was largely Catholic. (Since many years it is illegal to collect statistics about religious believes in the Grand Duchy but the CIA Factbook estimates that about 87% of the population is Catholic.) In 1893, Guillaume / Wilhelm and Maria Ana were finally allowed to marry and it was agreed that their children would be raised as Catholics as to give the population a ruler who shared their faith.

Due to lack of photographic evidence - or rather me being able to find them - our view back start in the 1960's.
In May 1965 Grand Duke Jean, who had ascended to the throne a year earlier, and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte visited the Vatican for an audience with Pope Paul VI. Born as Giovanni Battista Montini he headed the church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978.
In September 1978 Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte again made their way to Rome to meet Pope John Paul I who only reigned for 33 days. Formerly known as Albino Luciani, he reigned from 26 August 1978 until his death on 28 September 1978.
(Photo: Cour grand-ducale)
In 1983, th Grand Ducal Family visited the Vatican once again, this time for an audience with Pope John Paul II. Born as Karol Wojtyła he was the first non-Italian pope since 1523 and his papacy is the second longest in history. A very young Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume accompanied his family for the occassion and got a kiss from His Holiness himself.
Two years later in May 1985, Pope John Paul II paid a visit Luxembourg during which he also met with the Grand Ducal Family, among them Grand Duchess Charlotte who died two months later.
Photo: Tom Wagner
Though I'm sure that many more visits happened in the following 15 years, the next one I have pictures of took place in 2000. In July that year a very large Grand Ducal tour group made their way to Rome. Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, Hereditary Grand Duke Henri  and Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria Teresa as well as their children Prince Guillaume, Prince Félix, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sébastien, Prince Jean, Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla with their oldest son Prince Paul-Louis were received for an audience by Pope John Paul II.
Photo: Tom Wagner
In March 2003, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa used their state visit to Italy to stop by at the Vatican for another audience with Pope John Paul II. They were accompanied by all their children; Guillaume and Félix looking dapper in coat and tails and Sébastien with a broken foot.
Photo: Getty Images
Naturally, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess also were at the funeral of Pope John Paul II on 8 April 2005...
Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images
...and subsequently at the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI on 24 April.
Photo: Vatican Pool/Immaginazione/Corbis
A year later, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess as well as their five children visited the Vatican once again for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The German-born Joseph Ratzinger recently announced his retirement as pope and is now known as pope emeritus.
Photo: AP
On 17 September 2009, Grand Duke Henri and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume were received by Pope Benedict XVI at the Castel Gandolfo; a day earlier the Grand Duke had been awarded the Van Thuan prize.
Photo: Zimbio
On 1 May 2011, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa accompanied by Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Prince Louis as well as the Grand Duke's sister Princess Margaretha and husband Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein accompanied by their daughters Princess Maria-Anunciata and Princess Marie-Astrid were present for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
Photo: Hola
Most recently Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Prince Félix attended the very last general audience given by Pope Benedict XVI.

In addition to these "official" visits, members of the Grand Ducal Family regularly attend mass at the Vatican. As Prince Félix studies in Rome, he probably is the most frequent guest. Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha attend events related to the diplomatic corps as he is Liechtenstein's non-resident ambassador to the Holy See. But also other members make their way to Rome to celebrate special masses, Easter being one example, at the Vatican.

A Letter to the Pope

Like most other head of states or people in similarly important positions, Grand Duke Henri has sent a letter to the new Pontifex Maximus speaking for himself, his wife and the whole of Luxembourg. In case you have been living under a rock for the last day or so, yesterday evening the papal conclave elected Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope; he took the papal name of Francis.

In his letter, the Grand Duke congratulated Pope Francis on his election. He also expressed the appreciation that the new head of the Catholic Church comes from Latin America. Grand Duke Henri further wished the Holy Father an enlightened and productive pontificat.

It has been announced that Pope Francis' inaugural mass will be celebrated next Tuesday in the Vatican. It seems save to assume that many members of the Grand Ducal Family like the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess or Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, who is his country's non-resident ambassdor to the Holy See, will be in attendance.

Source: Place Royale

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Guest From Latvia

Today, Grand Duke Henri welcomed the Speaker of the Saeima - the Latvian parliament in case you aren't too familiar with the proper names of the world's democratic government's legislatures -  Mrs Solvita Āboltiņa at the palais grand-ducal. A picture of the Grand Duke and his guest, who is on a working visit in Luxembourg, is located on the website of the cour.

Source: CGD

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prince Felix in Valencia

Prince Félix is currently visiting Spanish town of Valencia; not in an official function but rather for his studies. As you may know, the prince attends the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome where he persues a degree in bioethics. Yesterday, he participated in a conference about the topic organised by the Universidad Católica de Valencia.

Before the conference kicked off, the Luxembourgish prince visited the university's library and was received by the archbishop of Valencia, Monseigneur Carlos Osoro.

In the course of the actual conference, Prince Félix held a speech about the need of the study of bioethics and its current challenges. He stressed that the research can benefit many areas of science such as law, medicine and politics, three of the pillars of today's society. Pictures of the prince can be found on the website of the Valencian university.

Source: Universidad Católica de Valencia, VLC Ciudad, 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grand Ducal Couple in Brussels ***

Earlier today, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited the European Commission in Brussels. They were welcomed by the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, his wife Maria Magarita Barroso and the EU commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding, who is from Luxembourg. The Grand Ducal Couple also met with other Luxembourgers working for the Commission.

Pictures can be found at Belga, Isopix, Tageblatt, the Cour grand ducale and AFP. Wort as well as the European Commission itself have videos of today's visit.

Source: AFP

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mérite Jeunesse 2013 **

Yesterday Grand Duke Jean and his youngest son Prince Guillaume were supposed to attend the award ceremony of the Mérite Jeunesse 2013; so far I could only locate a picture of Prince Guillaume posing with the laureates. While Grand Duke Jean is the patron of the Mérite Jeunesse, an organisation and award similiar to The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, Prince Guillaume works as the president of the board.

Edited to add: Another picture of both the fater and son duo as well as other attendants, can be found on the website of the cour.

Source: Mérite Jeunesse Sainte-Anne, Cour grand-ducale

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Photobook About the Liechtenstein's

A photobook about the Princely Family of Liechtenstein has just been published. The 286 pages strong book with the title "Die Fürstliche Familie von Liechtenstein: eine Fotoreportage" is available for 50 Swiss francs or 42 euros via Amazon.

Princess Maria-Anunciata and Princess Marie-Astrid (Photo: 1 FL News)
The author Uve Harder has been friends with Prince Hans-Adam II for a long time, he first had the idea to publish a book about the family about ten years ago. The book basically starts with the wedding of the reigning prince and his wife née Marie Countess Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau.

The first part of the book introduces the family members, Prince Hans-Adam and family, Prince Philipp and family, Prince Nikolaus and family - this is why the book made it onto the blog - as well as Princess Nora and family. Meanwhile the second part is dedicated to show their interaction with the country's population. So it is not a book full of portraits but of the family in action, with a focus on the years 1993 to 2012.

I haven't had a chance to have an actual look at the book; if you have, please let us know if it is any good.

Source: 1 FL News

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Visit to the Netherlands

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie (presumably) jumped into the car and drove about 350 kilometres northwards to meet with various European counterparts at Apeldoorn today. (Well, maybe they stayed in Rome for the last couple of days... But anyway, you get the point.)

Photo: RVD / Jeroen van der Meyde
The Prince of Orange and his wife Princess Maxima invited the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple as well as Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, the Duke and Duchess of Brabant plus Crown Prince Haakon of Norway for a private visit at the hunting lodge Kasteel Het Oude Loo

Although no official reason for the gathering of such a large number of European heirs was given, it probably has to do with the fact that Willem-Alexander will soon become the King of the Netherlands.

Source: Dutch Royal House

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Robert of Luxembourg, His Family and Wines

Today it is time to look at one of the lesser known but very interesting members of the Grand Ducal Family: Prince Robert of Luxembourg, the Grand Duke’s cousin.

Prince Robert as a baby
with his parents and his
sister  Princess Charlotte
Prince Robert Louis François Marie was born on 14 August 1968 in Luxembourg; he is the second child and only son of Prince Charles, the fifth of six children of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix and thus younger brother of Grand Duke Jean, and Joan Douglas Dillon. The couple had married on 1 March 1967 in Sutton Park, Guildford, Surrey in the United Kingdom, after many years of fighting for their love. Six months later they welcomed their daughter Princess Charlotte.

Joan Dillon was the first commoner to have married into the Grand Ducal Family, though her family background was far from being common.

The daughter of U.S. Treasury Secretary Clarence Douglas Dillon, who had also acted has his country’s ambassador to France for many years, and wife Phyllis Chess Ellsworth had formerly been married to James Brady Moseley. At the time of her first wedding Joan was only 18 years old; two years later the marriage was divorced and, in 1963, annulled by the Pope. From her first marriage she has another daughter.

Prince Robert spent the first eleven years of his life in the Grand Duchy, where he lived at the Château de Fischbach together with his parents, sister and grandparents, Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix. He visited the primary school in Belair. In 1977 at the age of only 49, Prince Charles died following a heart attack while on holiday at the Villa Reale d'Imbarcati near Florence, Italy.

Prince Robert went on to attend school in the United Kingdom and graduated from the Catholic boarding school Worth School in West-Sussex. Afterwards, he studied literature and philosophy at the University of Oxford as well as Georgetown University in the United States. The prince is fluent in Luxembourgish, French, German and English.

Wedding of Prince Robert
and Julie Ongaro
(Photo: Corbis)
It was in the United States that he came to know his future wife Julie Elizabeth Houston Ongaro, daughter of urologist and Harvard professor Dr. Theodor Ongaro and artist Katherine Houston. The two met for the first time in Dark Harbor, Maine in 1987 where Prince Robert's family owns a summer house.

The couple married on 29 January 1994 in Boston, Massachusetts, where Julie grew up. As Prince Robert apparently did not ask for consent to his marriage, his wife was simply known as Julie Nassau for many years. Funnily, because the prince did not ask for consent, he never seems to have lost his place in line to the throne. The couple has one daughter, Charlotte (* 1995), and two sons, Alexandre (* 1997) and Frederik (* 2002), who do not have succession rights.

In November 2004, Grand Duke Henri upgraded the wife and children of Prince Robert to princes and princesses of Nassau with the style of royal highnesses via the same Arrêté Grand-Ducal that elevated the children of Prince Jean.

Prince Robert and his wife worked as screenwriters for a couple of years; it started in 1992 when then Julie Ongaro tried to write a historic screenplay about Don Juan. As her future husband was full of caustic critique at times, she challenged him to write it with her. According to the prince they then "developed a partnership where we would talk and write".

Once they were finished they sent their screenplay to Hollywood and were soon signed by CAA (Creative Artists Agency), a prominent entertainment agency and considered Hollywood's leading talent agency. Their script was even considered by Steven Spielberg though it never made it into a movie.

Prince Robert at the
Château Haut Brion (Photo:
Domaine Clarence Dillon)
In 1935, American financier and Francophile Clarence Dillon, grandfather of Prince Robert’s mother, had bought the Château Haut Brion, one of the most famous French wine estates. Wine making on the estate goes back as far as the Roman times but the real history of the estate starts in 1533, when Jean de Pontec bought the title to the domain of Haut Brion.

In 1787 Thomas Jefferson fell in love with the wines of Haut Brion describing it as “the very best Bordeaux wine”. When Jefferson ordered dozens of bottles of the wine, Haut Brion became the first recorded first growth wine to be imported to the United States.

During the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, the Haut Brion was one of only four wines deemed to be Premier Grand Cru. Though another one was added in the 1970’s, Haut Brion remains the only First Growth wine to not come from the Médoc region but from Graves.

In 1975, Princess Joan took over as the new president of the estate. Three years later, after Prince Charles’ death, she married Philippe de Noailles, Duke of Mouchy. Since then she usually became known as Joan Dillon, Duchess of Mouchy. From 1979 to 2003, Duke Philippe worked as the managing director of Domaine Clarence Dillon. During the management under the Duke and Duchess of Mouchy the company grew bigger by acquiring the neighboring Château la Mission Haut-Brion.

Already at the age of 18, Prince Robert had become a member of the board of the Domaine Clarence Dillon, but only got more involved in the company after returning to Europe in the early 1990's. In 1997, he became a full-time member of the management team and in 2002 he took over as managing director from his stepfather. In 2008 he succeeded his mother as the president of the estate.

Prince Robert and Princess
Julie at the wedding of the
Hereditary Grand Duke
(Photo: RTL)
In 2005 he launched a new Bordeaux wine brand named Clarendelle, which is not as expensive and already available at about €20. Two years ago, he added the Château Tertre Daugay, former First Growth of Saint-Emilion to the portfolio of the Domaine renaming it Château Quintus.

His wine ventures are the primary reason why Prince Robert occassionally appears on the blog as he travels around the world to promote his wines. Sometimes his visits make it into the mainstream media and that is when we report about it. Apart from his wine business, he does not have any official appearances.

Nevertheless, we get to see him and his lovely wife for major family events such as the weddings of his cousin's children Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Archduchess Marie-Christine or the silver wedding anniversaries of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess or Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus.

Prince Robert and his family quietly live in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother divides her time between Paris and Luxembourg, while his sister Princess Charlotte is married with children and lives in London where she manages an art and cultural center.