Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein

Hereditary Prince Alois is probably the most (publicly) busy member of the Princely Family and so I thought it was time to shed some light on Liechtenstein's regent who is simply called 'Louis' by family and friends. Named for his paternal great-grandfather Prince Alois (1869-1955), he was born on June 11th, 1968, at around 5:30am in Zürich, Switzerland, as oldest son of Prince Hans-Adam and Princess Marie. Ten days later, he was christened on the name Alois Philipp Maria at the parish church of Vaduz by the Archbishop of Chur, Johannes Vonderach. Prince Alois' godfather is his uncle Prince Philipp.

Source: SR
Together with his parents, the then hereditary princely couple, his three younger siblings, Prince Max, Prince Constantin and Princess Tatjana, as well as his grandparents, Prince Franz Josef II and Princess Gina, he grew up at Schloss Vaduz above Liechtenstein's capital by the same name. Prince Alois and his siblings were the first members of the Princely Family to receive their school education entirely within the Principality. Just like his father had done, Prince Alois went to the local primary school Ebenholz. Between 1979 and 1987, he attended the Liechtensteinisches Gymnasium in Vaduz where he was class mates with Liechtenstein's former prime minister Klaus Tschütscher. In 1987, he passed his Matura - the Liechtenstein version of the A-Levels exams - with a literary-historical focus.

Having finished school a year earlier than usual in Liechtenstein as he was put into school a year earlier, Prince Alois, at the time still second in line to the throne after his own father, decided to take a gap year and, due to personal interest, he entered the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst to receive an officer's training like his uncle Prince Wenzel had done a few years earlier. To make such a move possible, a special agreement had to be signed between Prince Franz Josef II and Queen Elizabeth II as Liechtenstein's army was already disbanded in 1868 for financial reasons, after having probably been the first army in the world's history to come back from a war with more men than they had left with during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.

Photo: SR
After receiving his commission as second lieutenant, he served for six months in the Coldstream Guards in Hong Kong and London before enrolling as a law student at the University of Salzburg in October 1988. According to his own account, Prince Alois had the choice between studying in the German-speaking part of Switzerland or in Austria as both countries have similar legal systems to the one in Liechtenstein though he felt that Switzerland was just too close to home.

In November 1989, Prince Alois became the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein upon the death of his paternal grandfather, Prince Franz Josef II. On national day 1990, he took an oath on the constitution alongside his father, the new Fürst Hans-Adam II. 

Probably around Christmas 1992, Hereditary Prince Alois got engaged to Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, daughter of Duke Max and Duchess Elizabeth in Bavaria and great-great-granddaughter of the last Bavarian King, Ludwig III. The couple had firstly met seven years earlier at the birthday party of a mutual friend and their engagement was officially announced on January 12th, 1993. 

Photo: EinTracht
In the following spring, the Hereditary Prince graduated with a master's degree from Salzburg university. His dissertation dealt with the topic of a nation's right to self-determination. Hereditary Prince Alois then did a couple of internships and was likely also busy planning his own wedding which took place on July 3rd in Vaduz.

In September 1993, the newly weds moved to London where Hereditary Prince Alois worked in an accountant firm. In May 1995, Hereditary Princess Sophie gave birth to the couple's first child, Prince Joseph-Wenzel (who has simply been known as Prince Wenzel even by the newspapers for basically his entire life). He was followed by Princess Marie-Caroline in 1996, Prince Georg in 1999 and Prince Nikolaus, who was born in 2000.

About three years after moving to the British capital, in July 1996 to be exact, the young family moved back to Liechtenstein where they continue to live at Schloss Vaduz. At around the same time, Hereditary Prince Alois started to work in the different branches of the family's own companies (such as the LGT Group) in order to get to know them better. Allegedly, the original plan was to move abroad once again though on national day 2003 Prince Hans-Adam II announced his intention to hand over large parts of his powers to his oldest son. 

Photo: EinTracht
A year later on national day and after quitting his day job, Hereditary Prince Alois was appointed regent according to Liechtenstein's constitution which states that "the Prince Regnant 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 [...] in preparation for the Succession."

And so, since 2004, Hereditary Prince Alois has been exercising the role of the head of state of Liechtenstein and has thus been the one to represent the Principality at official functions both at home and abroad. 

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