Saturday, January 18, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein

One of the most low-key yet surprisingly active members of the Princely Family is Prince Philipp. Most times he makes it onto our little blog is in relation to his travels for his job as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the LGT Group but the younger brother of Prince Hans-Adam II hasn't always been involved in the family business and today we are going to shed some light on all of that.

Baby Prince Philipp with his
mother and older brother
(Photo: Historischer Verein)
The sounds gunshots and peal of bells announced the birth of the second son of Prince Franz Josef II and Princess Gina, who had been born in the morning hours of August 19, 1946 in Zurich, to the Principality's population. Five days later, the little prince was baptised and given the name Philipp Erasmus Alois Ferdinand Maria Sebaldus. As per tradition in the Princely Family (though not observed by all) he has only one godparent, his maternal grandfather, Count Ferdinand of Wilczek.

Prince Philipp and his four siblings were the first children of the Princely Family to actually grow up in Liechtenstein as their father was the first Fürst to make the country his main residence. They were joined by many cousins who had come to the Principality during or in the aftermath of the Second World War. Prince Philipp as well as his brother Prince Hans-Adam and Prince Nikolaus have been described as being particularly close to their maternal grandfather who lived with the family in Vaduz and whose wife had died while giving birth to her second child who also did not survive.

For the first three years of his education Prince Philipp attended the local primary school Ebenholz in Vaduz. Together with his older brother Prince Hans-Adam, who had just finished fourth grade, he was then sent to Vienna where the brothers attended the Schottengymnasium, the traditional school of the Princely Family. At some later point in time the brothers changed schools again and moved to Switzerland where they went to the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz. The prestigious boarding school is one of the only places in the world where you can obtain the Swiss Matura and the German Abitur simultaneously. Prince Philipp left the school in 1966 after having obtained both. Besides German, he is fluent in French and English.

With his parents and brother Nikolaus
(Photo: Point de Vue)
Being interested in arts and an avid painter, he then attended the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg the summer after finishing school. In autumn he enrolled at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn, at the time the de facto German capital, to study history.

During the early 1960's, he first met his future wife née Isabelle Fernande Ghislaine Guillemette Elisabeth de l'Arbre de Malander through mutual friends in Brussels while still being teenagers; they met again at a ball in Vienna given in honour of the 18th birthday of Princess Nora by her parents. Born on November 24, 1948 as the youngest child of Jean de l'Arbre de Malander and his wife née Guillemette Grassal, Princess Isabelle was the first commoner to marry into the main line of the Princely Family though one could argue that she was noble in all but name.

Growing up in her family's Château de la Cruce near Ronse, the goddaughter of Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians was educated at home until the age of 15 when she entered the Institut Sacré Coeur in Brussels. After finishing school, she studied music and classical ballet before taking classes in archaeology at the Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire. The couple's engagement was announced in June 1970 and they tied the knot on September 11, 1971 at the Abbaye de la Cambre in Brussels. At the time of their wedding, Princess Isabelle spoke Flemish, French and English as well as enough German to charm Liechtenstein's dignitaries during receptions hosted in their honour (or so the newspapers say).

Philipp and Isabelle with their sons
(Photo: Point de Vue)
After their wedding, Prince Philipp and Princess Isabelle moved to Basel in Switzerland where he pursued a degree in social sciences graduating with a thesis on Liechtenstein's economic history in the 18th century. During their time in Basel the couple's first son Alexander was born in 1972. He was followed by princes Wenzeslaus (*1974) and Rudolf (*1975) who were both born in Uccle, a muncicipality of Brussels just like the children of Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha a few years later. Prince Philipp is the godfather to his nephew Hereditary Prince Alois and his niece Princess Anunciata.

After short stints in Vaduz and London where Prince Philipp worked for the Hambros Bank, the family moved to Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt north of Paris in 1975. For the following years, Prince Philipp worked in trade financing for the Banque Privée Edmond de Rothschild. In 1979, he became chairman of the supervisory board of Liechtensteinische Landesbank (LLB) which is owned by the Liechtenstein state and two years later he became firstly involved in the Princely Family's own bank.

In 1981, Prince Philipp became a member of the board of directors of LGT Bank and was appointed its chairman in 1998. He held the position until 2006 when he was replaced by his nephew Prince Max. Between 1990 and 2001 he also worked as the chairman of the board of directors of Liechtenstein Global Trust. Until 2006 he was also the chairman of the board of directors of LGT Capital Management (since 1999) as well as the chairman of the LGT Group Executive Committee (since 2001). In addition, Prince Philipp also held the position of CEO and President of the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation until 2012 when he handed over his post to another one of his nephews, Prince Constantin. But nevermind, he still holds the position of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the LGT Group.

Photo: Abaca
Together with one of his cousins, Prince Michael, Prince Philipp founded the European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, a liberal think tank, and is a governor of the European Financial Forum in London. He is also a honorary member of the Ludwig von Mises Institut Europe, which also follows the Austrian school of economics, as well as a member of the Swiss-Liechtenstein Foundation of Archaeological Research Abroad. In more charitable functions, he is the honorary president of the Fondation Saint-Luc of the Université de Louvain, the patron of the Friends of the Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital in India as well as the honorary president of the Amis du Liechtenstein en Wallonie. In addition to a few other charities, both Prince Philipp and Princess Isabelle are patrons of the Brain Trust. Though he does not have any official role in the Principality, Prince Philipp occasionally accompanies economic and trade missions.

These days he splits his time between Vaduz, where he works, and France, where he and Princess Isabelle still have their primary home. In addition the couple does seem to do a whole lot of travelling as due to their low-key-ness (yes, I just made that word up) I'm pretty sure that we only cover a fraction of their travels and events.

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