Monday, June 10, 2013

Title Confusion in Asia (and Around the World)

As a close follower of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg for years, I have seen my fair share of weird title confusions or even new titles for members of the family. I have seen the Grand Duke referred to as a simple Duke - which, of course he is; the Duke of Nassau, that is - the Hereditary Grand Duke as the Hereditary Archduke by the media or as the Crown Prince by his own government (to, presumably, make it easier for foreigners); heck, I have even seen Luxembourg described as a Grand Dutchy, but diving deeper in the world of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein has brought a whole new level of title confusion.

   Photo: Prestige Singapore    
Prince Philipp visited Singapore some weeks ago and gave an interesting interview about the family's wealth, art collection and admirable stance on education and work ethic though you need to be able to read over the various parts of the article in which the prince's older brother Hans-Adam is referred to as "the crown prince" to fully enjoy it.

It's not surprising that the title of a Prince for a monarch leads to a little confusion in English and some other languages. In German, the language spoken in the Principality, it is much easier as there is a clear linguistic distinction. The monarch is the Fürst and his wife is the Fürstin, while all other members of the family are either a Prinz or a Prinzessin.

Contrary to what the name might suggest, the crown prince isn't the prince who actually wears the crown. Even in countries that have crown princes.

Despite all understandable confusion, a quick google search would have told anyone that Prince Hans-Adam II is not the crown prince but the Fürst, though it would be interesting if he was because his father, Prince Franz-Joseph II, would be celebrating his 107th birthday this year and ruling for a whopping 75 years by now. (And while we are at it, the heir apparent of the Principaliy is the Hereditary Prince or Erbprinz.)

By the way, this isn't a one time mistake but a common occurrence in articles about Crown Prince Hans-Adam II or the Princely Family in general; especially but not exclusively in Asian publications.

This might have to do with the fact that the 160 square kilometres (61 square miles) big Principality and its about 36,000 inhabitants aren't the most famous people in the world. Different members of the family, just as regular Liechtenstein citizens, have had trouble travelling in the past. It does not seem to be most uncommon occurrence that passports of the country aren't recognised and border guards refuse to let citizens of Liechtenstein into their countries stating that it either does not exist or is part of Germany - well it once was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the German Confederation, though I'm afraid that wasn't what they were referring to.

In early May, it was once again Prince Philipp - due to his job as chairman of the board of trustees of the LGT Group, the travelholic of the family - who visited Asia, this time Thailand and by the local newspaper in Hua Hin his family got a whole new territory to rule, Switzerland. Not sure whether the Eidgenossen (Swiss citizens) would be too happy about that development but, anyway, Prince Philipp was optionally referred to as "the Prince of Switzerland" or "H.S.H. Prince Philipp von und zu Liechtenstein of Switzerland".

The last one actually brings us closest to the actual name of the family, which includes two nobiliary particles, von and zu, if you scratch the "of Switzerland". The distinction between the two particles, which roughly translate to "of" or "from" and "to" or "at", date back to the Middle Ages. While von showed the noble lineage and origin of the family, zu indicated the family's ancestral property was still in the possession of their house. In some cases, like the Liechtenstein family, both were used.

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