Friday, February 28, 2014

What the Hereditary Grand Duke Did This Week

Photo: Luc Deflorenne / Luxembourg for Finance
This week and kinda lost in all the Bommeleeër stuff, the Hereditary Grand Duke attended the opening as well as the actual 'Renminbi Forum Luxembourg' on this week's Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Organised in jointly by Luxembourg for Finance and Clearstream, the event included an array of international speakers from both industry and politics who talked about the growing Renminbi market and opportunities arising from the internationalisation of the Renminbi in Europe. For more information, have a look at Wort, Journal or the website of the cour.

Source: CGD, Journal

Friday Flashback: Royal Snowball Fight

Photo: Point de Vue
Does it need words? Grand Duke Jean and his children (from left to right) Princess Margaretha, Princess Marie-Astrid, then Hereditary Grand Duke Henri, Prince Jean and Prince Guillaume throwing some snowballs at the press during a skiing holiday to Switzerland.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Closing the Case...

Photo: Gerry Huberty / Luxemburger Wort / least for us unless there should be some new major revelation which I find rather doubtful. And so here we go with our last post about the Affair Bommeleeër that has kept us busy during the last few weeks and months. Today, Prince Jean, his former wife Hélène Vestur and Prince Guillaume appeared in front of court to give their testimonies. Their testimonies can be found here, here and here, respectively.

A news report about today can be found at RTL, who also have Prince Jean's press statement as an audio file. Pictures are available at Wort.

The round off the day, the cour grand-ducale also issued a statement saying that the princes were happy to give their testimonies in the hope that all the allegations and rumours which have marred the reputation of the Grand Ducal Family in general and that of Prince Jean in particular will now find an end. The cour also expressed their trust in the justice and encourage those who have knowledge about the reason behind the bombings to come forward.


Prince Jean's Testimony

Photo: Gerry Huberty / Luxemburger Wort /
The court saved the most interesting for the end and thus Prince Jean was the third one to give his statement in the Bommeleeër case in court today. The prince's former wife Hélène Vestur and his younger brother Prince Guillaume had been called upon beforehand. For their testimonies, have a look here and here respectively.

Prince Jean preferred to answer all the questions he was asked in French, something that is his right in Luxembourg where you can chose whether you want to give your testimony in Luxembourgish, German or French.

Asked when he first heard about the rumours of him being involved in the bombings, Prince Jean said that he firstly heard about it in 2005 when he was told so by his older brother. At the time of the bombings, he finished up university education and started to work. Prince Jean believes that his family wanted to protect him from any unnecessary distractions and thus did not tell him about the rumours. Later he was very busy as he worked 80 hours a week in Paris to support his own family. Defense lawyer Gaston Vogel could not understand the non-reaction of Prince Jean in 2005 but the prince said that he was a witness and preferred to only talk to the police.

About November 9th, 1985, the day a deceased witness claimed to have seen Prince Jean in Luxembourg, the prince said that he spent the 9th and 10th at a hunt organised by the Giscard d'Estaing family. The night from 7th to 8th, he spent with his then girlfriend and later wife Hélène Vestur though he cannot reconstuct where he was during the night from 8th to 9th. He, however, was certain that he did not make a quick trip to Luxembourg via helicopter or car as Vogel suggested. Vogel also asked why Prince Jean did not have the night included in his alibi to which judge Conter answered that it speaks for the prince that he did not claim to have an alibi for the night if he could not prove it. Hélène Vestur did not accompany him to the hunt as they were a new couple and she wasn't invited.

Asked if he knew Ben Geiben or Jos Wilmes, had contacts with the CIA or was a member of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), Prince Jean answered no.

During his time at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the prince learned how to handle guns and bazookas but wasn't educated on how to work with bombs and booby traps.

Prince Jean also said that it was a voluntary decision by himself to give up his rights to the throne. Prince Jean told that things were different in his family and that the Grand Duke also always decides about marriages. His wife being a commoner would not have been a problem per se as it wasn't for his older brother Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, who the family had known for years. Prince Jean, however, presented them with a fait accompli as his fiancée was already pregnant. While they were a new couple in November 1985, their daughter Marie-Gabrielle was born in September 1986. Neither Grand Duke Jean nor Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte agreed with the wedding that happened in 1987.

At the time of his renunciation, there already were four people ahead of him in the line of succession which had become very hypothetical to him. Already at the age of 14, his father, Grand Duke Jean, had told him that he would not become Grand Duke and thus make a living for himself which he did. Prince Jean decided to built his own life and career outside of Luxembourg.

Prince Jean also cleared up some confusion that was often stated by the criminal court, the media and even former prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker. Like we stated before, Prince Jean did sign away his rights to the throne but he kept his title "Prince of Luxembourg, Prince of Nassau" as well as his styling as HRH all along.

At the end of this testimony as well as in a statement to the media, Prince Jean pointed out how hurtful the false implication of his person in the Bommeleeër case were for him, his family and the entire country. He elaborated that he was raised with a big love for Luxembourg and that he hopes that whoever was behind the bombings will be found and punished.

Prince Guillaume's Testimony

Photo: Gerry Huberty / Luxemburger Wort /
After Hélène Vestur, Prince Guillaume was the next to be called upon to give his testimony in the Bommeleeër case in court today. It, however, did not bring a whole lot of new information. In fact, even the judge made a comment about not understanding why he was summoned to court on the request of the defense lawyers if they did not have any questions. Prince Guillaume stated that he did not take part in any of the bombings and did not have an own car in Luxembourg as he pursued university studies abroad.

The biggest revelation, however, came before Prince Guillaume talked about the bombings when he stated that due to his car accident in 2000 in which he suffered a fractured skull and remained in a coma for a several weeks, he has lapses of memory. For example he is not able to remember either his own wedding or the births of his children.

Source: Wort, Tageblatt

Hélène Vestur's Testimony

Photo: Gerry Huberty / Luxemburger Wort /
Today is the day, Prince Jean, his former wife Hélène Vestur and Prince Guillaume appeared in court today. Both Tageblatt and Wort offer written live coverage of the testimonies and this one as well as two upcoming posts, will feature the testimonies given by the three members of the Grand Ducal Family given in front of court in the case today.

Hélène Vestur told the court that she only learned about the Affair Bommeleeër and an alleged implication of her former husband in 2006 when he called her. When she first heard about the rumours, she found them to be so absurd that she almost started laughing. Vestur said that Prince Jean could not remember exact details about what happened on the weekend of November 9, 1985 when a witness claimed to have seen him at the Findel Airport in Luxembourg. His former wife thus went through old letters she had kept and found some about the weekend as they had an argument about it.

Hélène Vestur and Prince Jean had planned to spend the weekend of November 9th and 10th together in Paris but the prince changed his plans last-minute to attend a hunt organised by the Giscard d'Estaing family. Prince Jean had just come back from the United States where he had attended university and seemed very positive, motivated and full of ideas to his then girlfriend. Before he went to the hunt, he made a quick stop in Paris to meet Madame Vestur and they had an argument about the fact that Prince Jean preferred to attend the hunt. He came back to Paris on Sunday evening (November 10th) and stayed there until Monday morning.

About the fact that Prince Jean gave up his rights, Hélène Vestur said that it was a voluntary decision by her former husband as he wanted to be free. She had become pregnant in 1985 after only having dated a rather short period of time but Prince Jean did not make a fuss about it and said that they would get married. Grand Duke Jean, however, was against the marriage. According to Madame Vestur's statement, she also was under the impression that it was more Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte who was not in favour of the wedding. She never met either Grand Duke Jean or Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte prior to her wedding in 1987 but only after her wedding when they had dinner together in Paris. Her relationship with her husband's family wasn't very easy in the beginning. She also stated that it took Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa a long time to convince his parents to give permission to their marriage.

According to Hélène Vestur, Prince Jean wasn't forced to give up his rights to the throne but decided to do so to be free. As his older brother, Grand Duke Henri, had already fathered three sons, there were four people ahead of Prince Jean in the succession and thus the matter had come very hypothetical to him.

Hélène Vestur couldn't remember to have talked about the whole Affair Bommeleeër with either her former husband or with his family prior to 2006. She said that they were quite removed from life in Luxembourg and built their own life in Paris. They were also quite removed from the cour grand-ducale as Madame Vestur stated that they only learned about a name change of their children by an arrête grand-ducal through a letter. Unfortunately, neither Wort nor Tageblatt stated what name change but I guess it was that they were created counts and countesses of Nassau in 1995.

In her finishing sentences, Hélène Vestur said that her children feel very sad that their father has been implicated in the bombings and that she is surprised herself that such a minor detail as someone claiming to have seen Prince Jean at one of the sites of the bombings hour before the bomb exploded would have such a big impact. She also said that she can, however, understand all the rumours within the 1980's but that she is sure that her former husband wasn't involved in the bombings.

Source: Wort, Tageblatt

Opening of Parliament

Photo: Michael Zanghellini / Liechtensteiner Volksblatt /
Today, Hereditary Prince Alois opened Liechtenstein's parliament for the year 2014. During the opening, the Hereditary Prince who was appointed his father's regent in 2004 gave his annual throne speech. A video of the speech can be found at Volksblatt while Vaterland has a transcription of the speech. For a ghetto English version of the speech, have a look here. Pictures of the opening of parliament can be found at Volksblatt.

Source: Volksblatt

New Nephew for the Hereditary Grand Duchess

Photo: Zimbio
Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie recently became an aunt once again. Her older brother Count Christian de Lannoy and his wife née Luisa Moreno de Porras Isla-Fernández y Manso welcomed their third child, a boy called Jacques, on February 18th which means that the little count shares his birthday with his Luxembourgish aunt. Count Christian and Countess Luisa already have a girl called Teresa and a boy named Ignace.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"It Was (Not) the Prince"

After all the confusion which prince it actually was, I can now tell you that it wasn't one of the princes at all, at least according to former attorney general Camille Wampach. During a hearing of Wampach this morning at the retirement home where he lives, he stated that he never said the words "(We think) it was the prince" to former diplomat Henri Etienne. Tomorrow we will get the next episode of the Grand Ducal Family and the Affair Bommeleeër as Prince Jean and Prince Guillaume are scheduled to appear in court. Let's hope that it will finally clear the air on the whole matter and put and end to the "lead Prince Jean" that never seemed very believable in the first place.

Source: Wort

Long Time No See

Photo: Information und Kommunikation der Regierung, Vaduz
The Princely Family, just as their Luxembourgish counterparts, have made themselves quite rare this year thus far. However a day ahead of being scheduled to open parliament tomorrow, Hereditary Prince Alois received four new ambassadors to Liechtenstein today. The newly appointed ambassadors who presented their letters of credence to the Principality's acting head of state include David John Moran of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, David James Ritchie of Australia, Saviour F. Borg of Malta and Thongphane Savanphet of Laos.

Source: IKR

Last Night in Vienna

Photo: LGT
Last night, the award ceremony of the LGT's annual media prize took place at the Stadtpalais in Vienna. As the LGT Group's chairman of the board of trustees, Prince Philipp was on hand to hand out the media prize that aims to support quality journalism in economic reporting. While the main prize went to Matthias Auer of Die Presse, recognition awards were received by Joseph Gepp and Michaela Greil. Some 59 pictures of the event can be found here.

Source: APA OTS

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And the Saga Continues...

I think I might have missed my calling as a criminal justice journalist: Today, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister between 1995 and 2013, as well as Henri Etienne, former diplomat, and his wife were summoned to the court in the Bommeleeër trial to talk about the "lead Prince Jean".

Former prime minister Juncker told that he set up a meeting with with the witness who claimed to have seen Prince Jean for November 14th, 2005 through the journalists who interviewed Beffort for an RTL documentary. Asked who the well-known person was, Beffort gave Juncker a piece of paper on which Prince Jean's name was written. The witness also told the then prime minister that he had been visited by people who told him to never tell anything to anyone about seeing Prince Jean at Findel Airport the night before a bomb exploded there.

The following day, Juncker called Grand Duke Henri and set up a meeting for the 16th to inform the head of state about what Beffort had told him. At first, Juncker was a little reluctant to tell the court about the meeting with the Grand Duke as those meetings are considered confidential. He, however, revealed that Grand Duke Henri was shocked about Beffort's statement and could not believe it.

Asked if he knew anything about Prince Jean's reasons to sign away his rights to the throne, Juncker said that he wasn't prime minister at the time and that the court should ask Jacques Santer, who was the head of government during the time of the bombings. Juncker, however, revealed that Grand Duke Henri didn't agree with the decision and would, in fact, like to reinstate his brother into the line of succession.

In addition, Henri Etienne and his wife, whose names you might remember from the Prince Jean/Prince Guillaume confusion last week, were heard. The hearings didn't bring much new information apart from a little more confusion on the question whether Etienne told attorney general Biever simply "the prince" or "Prince Guillaume" when they talked about a conversation between Etienne and former attorney general Wampach. While Etienne insists that he said "the prince," Biever is sure that Etienne said "Prince Guillaume." Etienne's wife confirmed that during a dinner with them Wampach said about the Bommeleeër case, "We think it was the prince." However, neither Etienne nor his wife did believe Wampach as they suspect Ben Geiben, former policeman and founder of the BMG, to be the Bommeleeër.

A few comments from my side: It's interesting to note that Grand Duke Henri would - if he could which I'm fairly certain he can't - give his brother Prince Jean back all his rights. It was also the current Grand Duke, who gave his niece and nephews the titles of princesses and princes of Nassau and the styles of royal highnesses in 2004 and thus making them equal - in style and title at least - to all other children of younger sons of a Grand Duke. Judging from pictures of christenings and such, Prince Jean's siblings and many royal and noble relatives and friends always supported him and his first wife, Hélène Vestur. I can't believe that they would have kept in close contact if Prince Jean had indeed been the Bommeleeër.

It is often stated in court that Prince Jean also lost his titles and was simply "Jean Nassau" after he signed away his rights. I'm fairly certain that this is not the case as he was always referred to as Prince of Luxembourg and Prince of Nassau even after his renunciation. While he did lose his rights, he neither lost his titles nor the style of a Royal Highness. It will be interesting to see what Prince Jean has to say about his renunciation on Thursday when he is scheduled to give a statement. The official reason given was "business reasons", which, by the way, was also the official reason for Prince Louis' renunciation of his rights to the throne in 2006. Prince Guillaume and Prince Félix, however, seem to be getting by business-wise, just fine without renouncing their rights, so everyone who can count one and one together knows that it more likely had to do with both Prince Jean and Prince Louis fathering children out of wedlock.

FYI, I have added a label to all the posts dealing with this trial, check them out here to learn what has happened thus far.

Source: Tageblatt, Wort

Father and Daughter Out and About

Photo: Francois Zuidberg / Philharmonie de Luxembourg
Last night, Grand Duke Henri and his only daughter, Princess Alexandra, attended a concert by Luxembourgish pianist Jean Muller at the grand auditorium of the Philharmonie in Kirchberg. The concert was organised by the Solistes Européens Luxembourg and featured a selection of pieces by Franz Liszt. Pictures can be found on the website of the cour.

Source: Wort

Grand Duke to Visit Russia

2007 state visit (Photo: Luc Deflorenne / SIP / Cour grand-ducale)
During a working visit to Moscow today, Luxembourg minister of foreign affairs Jean Asselborn announced that Grand Duke Henri will go on a state visit to Russia in early 2016. I guess that Grand Duchess Maria Teresa won't pass up the chance to see some Russian splendour at the Kremlin either and thus go with her husband. More details about the visit will likely be published in about two years, if we're still around by then, I'm pretty sure we will cover it.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and Luxembourg were established in 1891, a year after Grand Duke Henri's great-great-grandfather Grand Duke Adolph, who was also firstly married to a Russian Grand Duchess, came to the Luxembourgish throne. Curiously, the Grand Duke was already supposed to visit last year - at least according to what his then prime minister said in September 2012 - though unless he managed to fly even under the radar of his own employees and that of the Kremlin, that state visit never happened. Russian president Vladimir Putin, however, visited the Grand Duchy in 2007.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Former Grand Duke to Appear in Front of Court?

No day without news in the Bommeleeër trial it seems. Today, defending lawyer Gaston Vogel has expressed the wish to hear Grand Duke Jean, Luxembourg's head of state between 1964 and 2000, in court. According to a report by investigators about an interrogation with former general attorney Camille Wampach, Wampach stated that the rumours about a possible involvement of the former Grand Duke's second son Prince Jean started when he was "deprived" of his rights to the throne. Vogel is bothered about the wording as it is common knowledge that Prince Jean voluntarily gave up his rights to the throne after the birth of his first daughter and prior to his wedding to the child's mother. 

The defending lawyer would now like to question Grand Duke Jean about whether he deprived his son of his rights or whether Prince Jean gave them up by himself. While the court hasn't dismissed Vogel's wish which he expressed in oral form, they prefer to hear Prince Jean and his brother Prince Guillaume before making a decision about hearing the former Grand Duke.

Source: Wort

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Shout Out

Yes, I know, that doesn't really exist but nevertheless I would like to point you in the direction of a new project of mine called "Castles & Co". The blog will be an outlet to write about the castles and palaces that I visit to give you the chance to read about them and maybe decide to also pay a visit to them. Of course it won't be as frequently updated as this blog but I hope you will enjoy it anyway and occasionally pay me a visit over at the new blog.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Ruby and Diamond Tiara

Photo: Christie's
Today, we are going to have a look at one of the gems that has apparently left the Princely Family, a ruby and diamond piece that once belonged to Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria, grandmother of the current Prince-Hans Adam II.

Unfortunately for all jewel lovers, the Liechtenstein family doesn't have any tiara events of their own and foreign royal events are about the only chance we get to see the ladies of the family in some bling. (And even then, it's not a guarantee: While in Luxembourg for the pre-wedding ball in 2012, Princess Marie unfortunately went tiara-less.) As a result, nobody really knows how many pieces the tiara collection of the Princely Family still includes. Whenever a tiara is required, Hereditary Princess Sophie sticks to the Habsburg Fringe and the last time Princess Marie wore a tiara publicly anno 1993, she sported the Kinsky Tiara.

Believed to have been made around 1860, today's tiara features five oval-shaped rubies surrounded by ten small diamonds each. These clusters are set on an all-diamond panel of foliate design. All the stones are set in silver and gold. Considering it's Austrian provenance, the tiara might have been made by the famous Viennese jeweller Köchert.

Golden wedding anniversary of Arch-
duchess Elisabeth and Prince Alois
In 1903, Archduchess Elisabeth (1878-1960) received this ruby and diamond tiara as a gift from her uncle Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830-1916) when she married Prince Alois of Liechtenstein (1869-1955). (She was also given an all diamond tiara by her new husband's first cousin once removed, Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein. Oh, those were the days...) Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a picture of  the tiara ever been worn. In fact, I'm not entirely sure, I have ever seen Archduchess Elisabeth wearing any tiara as I can't decide whether it's a tiara or some other kind of head ornamentation she wore at her golden wedding anniversary in 1953.

The tiara, however, remained in the hands of a descendant of the Archduchess until it was put on auction in 2006. Christie's described the tiara as "property of a nobleman", a typical description by auction houses and thus not clear, who the exact seller was. According to my own theory, it likely wasn't the main branch of the family as [insert the usual story of the lost properties after World War II, the financial straits, the fact that you'd likely sell tiaras before da Vinci paintings, the reorganisation of the wealth and them now being one of the richest reigning families out there] and them probably not needing to put up any jewels to make money now.

Archduchess Elisabeth had eight children including two daughters who married fellow noblemen so it's entirely possible (and likely) that she spread her personal jewels between her descendants. The ruby and diamond tiara fetched a price of £16,800 or $33,113 or €20,343 depending on which currency you prefer. At the same auction, a rather nice necklace including some honking diamonds that also was a wedding gift by the Emperor to his niece was sold. And who knows, the main branch has scooped up family jewels at auctions before so maybe it still remains among the descendants of Archduchess Elisabeth.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prince Guillaume As Bommeleeër? Or Not?!

The Affair Bommeleeër gets even more confusing and abstruse. A little more of someone heard someone saying that someone has said has brought out that someone thinks that Prince Guillaume might have been one of the bomb planters and even when I put in names, it does not get any less confusing. Thus far, someone else had always said that they thought they had seen Prince Jean at one of the sites of the bombings and another someone else somehow started a rumour that he might have been implicated in the bombings.

As to Prince Guillaume: assigned state attorney Georges Oswald yesterday read a statement by a witness that said that the attorney general at the time of the bombings, Camille Wampach, told Henri Etienne, a former diplomat, that Prince Guillaume was one of the bombers. Etienne apparently told or wrote to Robert Biever, attorney general, earlier this year about what Wampach told him though I'm not entirely sure by who the witness statement read exactly was.

However, since yesterday Etienne approached Luxembourg's biggest newspaper Luxemburger Wort to say that neither he nor Wampach had ever implicated Prince Guillaume but that Wampach only said "et war de Prënz" ("it was the prince"). According to Etienne, Wampach meant Prince Jean with the statement and Prince Guillaume only came into the conversation as Etienne knew him personally. Neither Wampach nor Etienne apparently mentioned what the motive of either of the princes would have been and so the Bommeleeër trial remains a case of someone heard someone saying that someone said.

Friday Flashback: Three Brothers

Photo: Point de Vue
Grand Duke Henri (right) together with his two younger brothers, Prince Jean (middle) and Prince Guillaume (left).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rare News from Brussels

Photo: Editions People
Some rare news coming out of Brussels tonight... Archduchess Marie-Christine, oldest daughter of Luxembourg's Princess Marie-Astrid, and her husband Count Rodolphe de Limburg-Stirum recently attended the opening of the BRAFA, that's Brussels Antiques and Fine Art Fair if you are not up on all the world's abbreviations. The event, which was also attended by Count Rodolphe's parents, drew lots of royals and nobles including Romanovs, Lignes, and more. Two galleries of visuals are available here and here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Princess Sibilla in Germany (Again)

Photo: MZV
Turns out Princess Sibilla wasn't only at museums in Munich and Hof, a town in north-eastern Bavaria, but also at the Ziegeleipark Mildenberg near the village of Mildenberg in the no-man's-land north of Berlin. The princess visited in her capacity as member of the jury of the Micheletti Award and thus, together with her fellow jury member Wim van der Weiden, she toured the former brickyard which has been nominated for the award, a European prize for innovative museums in the world of contemporary history, industry and science. The actual award will be given out in April this year.

Louis Giscard d'Estaing Summoned

Louis Giscard d'Estaing, a French politician, former member of the National Assembly of France and son of former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, will be heard in court in the Bommeleeër trial on March 5. A now deceased witness claimed that he saw Prince Jean near Findel Airport during the night of November 9, 1985 where later that day a bomb exploded. Grand Duke Henri's younger brother, however, says that he was at a hunt in France during that time, an alibi which is supported by Giscard d'Estaing. Prince Jean and Prince Guillaume will make an appearance on Thursday next week.
Written statement by Giscard d'Estaing (Photo: L'essentiel)
Source: Tageblatt

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Today in Brussels

Photo: Belga / AFP
Like every year in February, a a special mass to commemorate the deceased members of the Belgian Royal Family was held at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, or Église Notre-Dame, in the Brussels' suburb of Laeken. Grand Duke Henri's sisters, Princess Marie-Astrid and Princess Margaretha, have often attended the event in the past and this year was no different, at least for one of the sisters. Princess Margaretha can be seen sitting in the church just behind her first cousin Prince Laurent of Belgium. 

The prince's father, King Albert II, is the brother of the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, Princess Margaretha's mother who was a born princess of Belgium. The church in Laeken includes the royal crypt, the burial place of all reigning Belgian Sovereigns and their wives, as well as members of the Belgian Royal Family. Also buried in the crypt is Princess Margaretha's oldest son, Prince Leopold-Emanuel, who died five hours after his birth.

Princes to Appear in Court Next Week

On Thursday next week, February 27th that is, Prince Jean will appear in court to give his testimony in the Bommeleeër case. The name of Grand Duke Henri's younger brother popped up in the investigation of the series of bombings in Luxembourg during the 1980's here and there. One witness claimed to have seen the prince at Findel Airport in 1985 just hours before a bomb exploded there. Prince Jean, however, has an alibi for the day which is supported by, among others, Louis Giscard d'Estaing, a French politician and son of former French president Valérie Giscard d'Estaing. 

Prince Guillaume is also scheduled to appear in court next week to give a statement about a meeting between Prince Jean and state attorney Robert Biever prior to the official investigation at his house in 2006. (For more information about the Bommeleeër case, have a look here.)

The court will already talk about the "lead Prince Jean" today though there probably won't be any new revelations considering that Eugène Beffort, the witness who claimed to have seen the prince at the airport, died in 2012.

Source: L'essentiel

Monday, February 17, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Sommerpalais Liechtenstein

The Sommerpalais or Alserbachpalais is the least known of all the Viennese palaces owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. Situated just across the gardens from the Gartenpalais in the 9th Viennese of Alsergrund in the Rossau, not too much is (publicly) known about this 'summer palace'.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The park situated between the Gartenpalais and the Sommerpalais dates back to the year 1687 when it was laid out as the first pleasure garden after the end of the siege of Vienna by the Turks. Now considered the city's oldest palace garden still in existence, both the park and a baroque-style pleasure palace were designed by Austrian architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach at the behest of Prince Hans-Adam I of Liechtenstein. To realise his plans, the namesake of today's Prince had bought the plot of land consisting of gardens, fields and vineyards from the Prince of Auersperg earlier that same year.

Photo: Liechtenstein, The Princely Collec-
tion. Vaduz-Vienna / Gerhard Koller
The first palace located on the site of today's Sommerpalais was called Belvedere. Belvedere, which is Italian and translates to 'beautiful sight', palaces were a very common occurrence of Viennese baroque gardens as they were built to offer its visitors scenic views over the park or garden. Starting in 1687, the plans by Fischer von Erlach were put into effect by master stonemason Martin Mitschke. The construction of the palace was finished in 1689.

In 1873, the Belvedere was demolished and three years later Prince Johann II, whose reign of 70 years and 90 days is the second-longest in European royal history after that of Louis XIV of France, commissioned architect Heinrich von Ferstel to build a new palace as a summer house for his mother, née Countess Franziska Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau, on the site of the demolished one. The Sommerpalais subsequently was also home to other members of the Princely Family.

Measuring 102 metres in length, the new neo-renaissance palace is a much bigger magnificent building than the original Belvedere and its garden-facing front is the star of the show; architect Ferstel used the former Belvedere palace as his inspiration and incorporated a triumphal arch-like motif into the loggia of the Sommerpalais. The palace is accessible via two entrances on the garden side.

Photo: Stiftung Fürst Liechtenstein
While the ground floor originally mainly housed guest as well as functional and attendant rooms, ceremonial halls and apartments of the Princely Family were located on the principal floor. Especially noticeable is the great height of the state rooms and staircases. Behind the five large oval windows of the central avant-corps on the on the side facing the street, a winter garden was once located. 

In 1932, the great ball room was converted into an apartment for the Princess of Schwarzenberg who was confined to a wheelchair. (If you know which Princess of Schwarzenberg is meant, let us know!) The conversion was reversed during renovations from 1989 to 1991. During the same period of time, the Sommerpalais was heavily modernised and largely adapted for office and residential use. These days, the offices and apartments are rented out but still owned by the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Birthday Celebrations Including a Cute Surprise

Photo: 1 FL TV
Liechtenstein's head of state, Prince Hans-Adam II, celebrated his 69th birthday today and in the afternoon hours of the day, a reception took place at Schloss Vaduz. Invited were the political, juridical and religious dignitaries of the Principality as well as some family of the Prince, or so it seems. Princess Marie surely was there and I guess that the child on her arm is in fact Maximilian "Maxi" von Lattorff, youngest child of Princess Tatjana and her husband Philipp von Lattorff and thus also youngest grandchild of the princely couple.

A few glimpses of the reception can be found in this video by 1 FL TV starting at about 3:40. Pictures are available at Volksblatt, Vaterland and Vorarlberg Online.

To mark his birthday Prince Hans-Adam II gave another few interviews to Radio Liechtenstein and Vaterland in which he talks all kinds of stuff such as a new found interest in urban development and planning.

Source: 1 FL TV, Radio Liechtenstein

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Flashback: Valentine's Day Lovers

Photo: Corbis
33 years ago today, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa got married in a civil ceremony at the palais grand-ducal and in a religious wedding at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. While the press was happy to write about the Valentine's Day lovers, the couple did not notice that they would be getting married on the Feast of Saint Valentine until it was pointed out by the media. The most important factor in their choice of date was an upcoming state visit. They were given the choice to marry in advance or a few weeks after, as the then Hereditary Grand Duke and his Cuban-born Swiss wife did not want to wait any longer, they decided for advance and February 14th it was.

Luxarazzi 101: Queen Astrid's Emerald Bracelet Choker

Photo: Sotheby's / Laurent D.
We have something to celebrate and we love to do so in style, royal-style that is. And when you celebrate royal-style, bling is never far away. After having talked so much about jewellery that has left the Grand Ducal Family as of late, let's indulge in the splendour of one of the pieces that was indeed saved from being auctioned off by the cancellation and remains in the hands of the main line of the family. In fact, this emerald and diamond bracelet that has also been worn as a choker necklace seems to be one of the favourite pieces of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.
The current Grand Duchess, however, isn't the first royal lady to wear this piece of jewellery. Its most famous owner was Queen Astrid of the Belgians, the almost legendary mother of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte. How exactly the Queen got her hands on the bracelet is a little uncertain. The most common theory - which is supported by information provided by the Grand Ducal Family both during an exhibition in 2005 and the proposed auction in 2006 - it was a gift by Astrid's mother-in-law, Queen Elisabeth, on the occasion of the birth of Joséphine-Charlotte in 1927. According to the cancelled Sotheby's auction, the bracelet was made in the 1920's.

Another much less common theory originates with Christophe Vachaudez in his 2004 book Bijoux des reines & princesses de Belgique. In this book, Vachaudez describes a piece with a central emerald that would look just like this bracelet as having been a gift from King Léopold III to his first wife, Queen Astrid. Whoever the original gift giver, Sotheby's estimated the bracelet, which can also be worn as a choker, between 15,000 and 25,000 euros.

As you probably know, Queen Astrid's fairytale did not have a happily ever after. In 1935, the much beloved queen died in a tragic car accident near Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. After Astrid's death, King Léopold's second wife, Princess Lilian, was also seen wearing the bracelet. Much can and has been said about Princess Lilian's personality, relationship with her husband's children as well as the fact that she wore personal jewellery of Queen Astrid that some believe were already the property of her stepchildren at that point in time. While everyone has judge the Princess of Réthy's actions for themselves, it does seem a bit tasteless to me to wear personal jewels of your stepchildren's late mother.
Photo: Point de Vue / Zimbio
It is not entirely sure when exactly Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte got her hands on the bracelet. Some speculate that it was already left to her by her mother upon her death, others say that either King Léopold III or Princess Lilian refused to give it to her upon her marriage which would probably speak against the first theory. Whenever she got it, Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte only wore the piece rather rarely. To the best of our combined knowledges she only did so in 1996 at the 70th birthday celebration of Prince Edouard de Lobkowicz in Paris.

Some people claim that the reason for Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte not wearing the piece as either bracelet or choker is the fact that it was frequently worn by her stepmother. Joséphine-Charlotte, however, did not seem to have a problem wearing other jewellery of her late mother that was also worn by Princess Lilian. Maybe she saw the same problem with the piece that Team Luxarazzi sees!? As it is quite obvious in the picture of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wearing the piece as a choker, the emerald is much lighter than the other emerald pieces of the Grand Ducal collection and thus always looks a little mismatched. Even though I don't think it has been done, the bracelet/choker can also been converted into a tiara.

Grand Duchess Maria Teresa frequently wears the emerald and diamond piece as a choker though I wish she would wear it as what it was originally intended to be, a bracelet. As mentioned before, I also can't help but think that it often looks mismatched with the other emerald pieces of the Luxembourgish vaults which have much darker stones. Instead I think that the Emerald Art Deco Tiara, for example, would look much better combined with an all-diamond necklace that doesn't look as if it is about to strangle its wearer like chokers tend to do.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two Million and Counting

Just a few minutes ago Luxarazzi reached its two millionth visitor. He or she might have been a regular reader or a new visitor to the blog, we don't know. Whoever it was: Thank you! And thank you to the 1,999,999 visitors before! We're thrilled to bits.

The blog was founded in September 2009 and it took us three and a half years to hit our first million milestone in January last year. The second million came very quickly in comparison to that. Surely there are blogs out there who receive two million visitors during a regular week but when you consider our very narrow focus on the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg and the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, it seems all the more amazing for monarchies with about 500,000 and 35,000 inhabitants respectively and not big international profiles.

Needless to say that the four weddings in the Grand Ducal Family in the past two years have likely contributed a lot to the number of visitors we received and they also changed our audience. While Americans are still on top of the list, German and French people have overtaken Luxembourgish readers in the rankings since we reached our one millionth visitor last year. The United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada and Belgium come in the places behind. 

The blog has come a long way since it was founded in September 2009 by the original Luxarazzi, Nichole who you probably better know under her blogger name Carolina. Over the years, she had a few different people helping her both as regular or onetime contributors, thank you to each and everyone of them. I - Svenja a.k.a. Sydney - came on board in 2011 and I have enjoyed it very much. While it might seem that I have taken over most of the blogging these days, Nichole is still very much involved in everything with hundreds of messages about all things grand ducal, princely and all kinds of other topics flying back and forth between us every week. Over the past few years, she has become so much more than a partner-in-crime for this blog to me. If you'd like to know a little more about us and the history of Luxarazzi, check out this online article Wort published about us last month.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed in the past few years by sending us news, first hand coverage, photos, links and even gossip. We really appreciate it. Another thank you goes to those who give a link to Luxarazzi on their own blog or share our posts by other means such as Twitter and Facebook. Even though it was already done once in the beginning, thanks again to all of our readers, each and every single one of you. Seeing how much our work is appreciated is such a great reward for all the time and work that goes into this blog.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More From Russia and Back in Luxembourg

Photo: Cour grand-ducale
Grand Duke Henri (and presumably Prince Félix) have already left Sochi and the Olympic Games behind them as the Grand Duke was back in his usual realm yesterday to welcome a delegation of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Luxembourg. The delegation takes part in an event organised by the European court of justice this week. Before leaving Russia, Grand Duke Henri took in a bit of short track speed skating and cross country skiing.

Meanwhile, Princess Nora is still in Russia where she handed out the joint gold medal in the alpine skiing women's downhill competition to Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland. Liechtenstein's very own medal hope Tina Weirather was out of the competition after injuring her right tibia in training run crash last Sunday. It's not clear yet whether she will be able to compete in any of the upcoming races though it seems rather unlikely. As Weirather herself says, "it's not over until it's over" and so we will keep our fingers crossed for her.

Source: Cour grand ducale, Getty Images

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Royal Recycling and Clothes Sharing Vol. 3

Due to continued popularity of our previous posts on the matter - have a look here and here to check them again - here's a new episode of Royal Recycling and Clothes Sharing or how the members of the Grand Ducal Family basically share one walk-in closet. (Why yes, I do like to imagine it just like that closet in "The Princess Diaries" including those drawers full of jewellery which open automatically by remote control.)
For the wedding of her husband's cousin Archduke Christoph in Nancy in December 2012, Princess Tessy stepped out in a dark brown coloured coat and matching hat. Little did we notice at the time that the coat had in fact been previously worn by the princess' mother-in-law. In 2005, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa sported the same brown number when President of Mali Amadou Toumani Touré came to the Grand Duchy for a state visit. The Grand Duchess also wore the coat for the state visit of Czech president Václav Klaus in 2006.
Mind you, Princess Tessy wasn't the only lady at the wedding who wore a coat belonging to someone else. If you venture back to the first post in which we had a look at Luxembourgish clothes sharing, you will see that Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie wore a coat previously worn by Princess Alexandra. In addition, there was Archduchess Marie-Christine who did the very same when she stepped out in a fur-trimmed poncho-style coat previously worn by her mother Archduchess Marie-Astrid on a number on occasions such as a mass for deceased members of the Belgian royal family in 2010. (Also, hi there you adorable little Count Léopold!)
And guess what! That wasn't even all the clothes sharing and recycling going on at Archduke Christoph's wedding. It seems like Princess Anunciata wasn't the only one who rummaged in Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa's closet to find an old dress of her's to wear for the evening ball as Princess Alexandra stepped out in a black gown that looks suspiciously similar to a dress worn by the Grand Duchess in 1998, just that Princess Alexandra added a little fur to make the outfit a little more winter appropriate. In addition, the dress also includes already previously spotted extra fabric to make up for the height difference though executed a little less clumsy this time around.
Wearing the same hat is an easier (in many senses of the word) version of the clothes sharing going on above. Interestingly though, Princess Alexandra was the first (to my knowledge) who sported this red hat for National Day in 2008. Two years later, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa sported the same hat at the closing of the Octave of Our Lady of Luxembourg.
For a long time, I wasn't entirely convinced that these are indeed the same hats due to a few slight differences. Then again, the hat that then Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy wore for her first international royal event, the christening of Sweden's Princess Estelle, is probably just too similar to a hat worn by Grand Duchess Maria Teresa for the Te Deum and military parade on National Day 2010 not to be the same. Maybe it's the different angle at which it is worn? If you'd ask me to put money on it, I'd say that the hat was designed by Belgian Fabienne Delvigne, a favourite of the Grand Duchess.
That the hat worn by both Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa at an unknown (to me) event and Princess Alexandra at the wedding of Archduchess Marie-Christine, however, is the same one seems without a doubt.
And the very same goes for the hat that then Madame Tessy de Nassau wore for her very first national day as the wife of Prince Louis in 2007. The salmon-pink pillbox hat had been previously worn by Grand Duchess Maria Teresa during the Octave celebrations seven years earlier in 2000. If that isn't enough for you, some more hat sharing can be found among the Liechtenstein sisters Princess Maria-Anunciata and Princess Marie-Astrid.
And by the way, it's not only the ladies... Either Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Prince Louis buy their ties in a twin pack to save money or they simply like to share the love. This cream-orange-blue number isn't even the only tie both of the brothers have been regularly sporting during the past few years. For some reason, I could swear that I have also seen either Prince Félix or Prince Sébastien in the same tie though I can't seem to locate any photographic evidence to support my suspicion.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, as long as clothes sharing is done right with clothes that fit the different people wearing them and added fabric blends in nicely, it's a great way to enhance one's closet. All of these clothes are expensive and well-made and especially the junior princesses and archduchesses don't need a gazillion different dress coats, hats and gowns. It's also a good way to be economical as many outfits are only worn for official functions a handful of times.

Photos: Photos: Lola Velasco / Christian Aschman / Cour grand-ducale / Tom Wagner / Tageblatt / Anders Wiklund / Acaba / PPE / DDP

Monday, February 10, 2014

Father and Daughter Out and About

Photo: Vic Fischbach / Cour grand-ducale
Last Friday, Grand Duke Jean and his second daughter Princess Margaretha visited the Edward Steichen exhibition "The Family of Man" at the Château de Clervaux. The exhibition of works by the Luxembourgish-born American photohrapher was reopened by Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie in July last year. I feel like I always say it whenever we see him out and about but it really is great to see Grand Duke Jean, who turned 93 last month, still participating in Luxembourgish life every once in a while.

More pictures can be found at the cour and Wort.

Source: Cour grand-ducale