Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Regency and Accession in Liechtenstein

Considering that there isn't an awful lot of exciting stuff going on in either Luxembourg and Liechtenstein at the moment, I thought we'd use the day in a more productive manner by talking about a topic that comes up quite regularly, regency, and another one that I very much related to it, accession. As we already did so a while ago in relation to the Grand Duchy, we will focus on the Principality today which is quite handy as today also marks the 24th throne jubilee of Prince Hans-Adam II. On November 13, 1989, Prince Franz Josef died at 11:45pm at a hospital in Grabs, Switzerland and at that moment his oldest son and heir, Hans-Adam, became ipso iure the new Prince of Liechtenstein.
Photo: Historischer Verein
Already five years earlier on August 26, 1984, then Hereditary Prince Hans-Adam had become his father's regent. Now, every time you hear of a regency, you likely think of someone not being able to rule due to various possible reasons such as not being old enough and being seriously ill. Regency in Liechtenstein, however, is very much like the appointment of a lieutenant-representative in Luxembourg and thus part of the training of a future head of state. Since June 28, 1984, Article 13 of the Principality's constitution states that "the Reigning Prince may entrust the next Heir Apparent of his House who has attained majority with the exercise of the sovereign powers held by him as his representative should he be temporarily prevented or in preparation for the Succession."

Though differently worded by still paying respect to the fact that the Prince of Liechtenstein did not live in the Principality at the time, the same part of the constitution was also responsible for Prince Franz Josef II becoming his great-uncle Prince Franz I's regent on March 30, 1938 before becoming the reigning prince upon his death on July 25 of the same year.

Hans-Adam's declaration of legality
While there was a little kind of official ceremony for handing over the power in 1984, this was neither the case in 1938 nor more recently in 2004 when Hereditary Prince Alois was appointed Prince Hans-Adam's regent in order to learn for his future role as head of state. In 1984, the Princely Family had wished to do something to mark the occasion but as nobody was really happy with how things turned out, they decided to do it in much quieter fashion nine years ago.

While the Hereditary Prince becomes the new Prince in the moment of his predecessor's death, he will need to give his oath of allegiance in front of parliament within 30 days and then receive the homage of the parliament. So, after Prince Franz Josef II died on November 13, Prince Hans Adam II wrote a letter to the head of government dated on the same day in which he declared that he "will reign over the Principality of Liechtenstein in accordance with the Constitution and the other laws, that he will maintain its integrity, and that he will observe the rights of the Reigning Prince indivisibly and equally" just like any new Prince is required by Article 13 of the constitution. The reason behind this declaration of legality being given in form of a letter is that the constitution was written 1921 when the Prince didn't live in Liechtenstein but still had his main residence in Vienna and travelling between the two places did take a little longer at that time. 

The Prince of Liechtenstein might still be given his powers by the Grace of God but he is required to swear that he will abide by the constitution and the laws of the country. Prince Hans-Adam II did so on December 6 when he gave his troth in front of the parliament stating that he assumed the role of Prince according to Articles 3 and 13 of the Constitution and repeating the things he had already declared in his written proclamation. Only after the Prince does that, the homage by the parliament takes place in which the deputies swear the oath of allegiance in representation of the people of Liechtenstein.

The celebration of the homage, which dates back to the Middle Ages and often even took place without the Prince of Liechtenstein's attendance, together with the people of Liechtenstein took place the following year on National Day. During the event, both Prince Hans Adam and Hereditary Prince Alois declared their commitment to the constitution and the people.

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