Sunday, August 31, 2014

Royally Speaking with Sophie of All Things Royal

With quite a bit else going on, I feel that we have neglected our Royally Speaking... series a little but don't worry, we're far from done. In today's edition I talked to Sophie of the Dutch-language website All Things Royal.

I know you count Diana, Princess of Wales and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands among your favourite royals, was it with either of them that your interest in royalty started out or was it some other way?
It all started with Diana! I was six year old and loved browsing the Dutch gossip magazines to look at pictures of her. Especially pictures of her in evening gowns and tiara. She really was, in my mind, the fairytale princess. Two years later, 1992, the War of the Waleses began. The pictures of a unhappy Diana and all placed me firmly in Team Diana. I went to the library to get the Morton-book. Very quickly I was a know-it-all about Diana (allthough biased). In the nineties I did read up on other monarchies, but wasn’t interested then. When Filip married Mathilde, Willem-Alexander was in a serious relationship with Emily Bremers and the first engagements in the Dutch royal family happened, I started to get more serious about the other monarchies. I picked a good time, because a whole lot of engagements, weddings happened and babies were born! Sadly funerals too.

How and why did you decide to set up the Dutch-language blog and forum All Things Royal?
Well, my late father was a journalist and amateur historian and in the late ‘90’s he got into webdesign to create a website about the history of the village where we lived. I got interested and he tought me to create a website. Because royalty was my hobby and interest, a theme was easily picked. In 2004, I decided to make it more professional and the number one Dutch source on royalty (yikes, that does sound very ambitious!). I was a member of The Royal Forums (then called Les Tribunes Royale) and thought a forum would be a good idea as well. Now, 10 years later, the site is still going strong!

There are a lot of people who can't necessarily understand a deeper interest in monarchy, how would you explain to a none-royal watcher what keeps you interested in royalty year after year?
That’s a difficult question! Of course the ‘Circle of Life’ (weddings, babies, funerals) keeps you going. Scandals help too. Tradition and history play a huge part. I love learning about the history and traditions of royal families. And I find my interest has shifted towards the lesser known and former European royal families, so there is a lot of catching up to do!

Which royal family are you personally most interested in and why?
The Dutch royal family, obviously. Why? Well, they are a loving family and professional in how they handle their royal work. They are also exquisite in how to handle and maintain their bond/connection to the Dutch people. Compared to the royal family of Belgium (where I live)… But I do follow the Belgian and Luxembourg family as well, because of the historical ties and family ties.

And last but certainly not least, if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, which ones would find an invitation in their mailbox?
Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie: she is my age and a fellow Belgian. She seems very sympathetic and friendly so I have the feeling we would get along and I would love to hear how her life is and how Luxembourg as a country is. 
The Duchess of Cambridge: I am just interested how the real Catherine is and how she deals with the stardom/celebrity status that the media desperately wants to give her? How does she cope with it? And to talk about William and a bit about Diana. 
Queen Máxima: She will bring the bling and the fun. Though I would like to talk to her about how she felt about leaving everything behind her. Was it difficult? How did she decide moving to the Netherlands was worth doing it? 
Queen Elizabeth II: she is an institution but I am really curious to how she really is. 
Princess Charlene: to give her some pep talk. 
Crown Princess Victoria: she is very spontaneous and has a lovely family. And I feel she will be a very good person to have a serious talk about life with.

Royals Celebrate 200 Years Kingdom of the Netherlands

Yesterday, the Netherlands celebrated the anniversary of their Kingdom once again and our fellow royal watcher Arjan - find him on Twitter here - was in on the action and wrote about it for us - Thank you so much, Arjan!

As some of you might know, the Kingdom of the Netherlands exists for 200 years. In the period 2013-2015, several events all over the Netherlands have taken/ will take place to celebrate this milestone. Yesterday, the place to be was Maastricht, in the far south of the Netherlands. Maastricht is perhaps the most international city of the Netherlands: it's very close to the Belgian and German borders and Luxembourg isn't very far away either. To give you an idea: Luxembourg is much closer to Maastricht than Amsterdam or The Hague. Maastricht also gives its name to the 1992 treaty which laid the blueprint for the European Union as we know it today. So: a suitable place for celebrations that were meant to highlight the international outlook of the Kingdom. 

Along with, of course, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the celebrations in Maastricht were attended by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg (Luxembourg shared its Grand Duke until 1890 with the Kingdom), King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians (Belgium has been a part of the Kingdom before gaining independance) and President Joachim Gauck of Germany with his partner (Germany is the most important trading partner of the Netherlands).

As Maastricht is less than two hour drive from where I live, we (that's me and my boyfriend) decided to make a day of it and yesterday morning, we jumped in the car for a day of some serious royalty watching, some shopping and having dinner.

First we went to the Markt. We arrived at 12h30. We got a very nice spot and then the waiting game began. As many of you know, good royalty watching requires a lot of patience (kudos to my boyfriend, who let himself be persuaded to accompany me), which will be rewarded in the end with having a good view and (in my case) being able to make some pictures. At the Markt a 'spectacle of music and fashion without borders' would take place. Sounded promising. The royals and president would arrive two hours later, so we had to entertain ourselves in the meantime with watching the rehearsals and watching some silent protesters against the monarchy (they only held high a sign). We spotted some well known journalists, saw some minor guests arrive and then in the end, the royal bus arrived: that's what we were waiting for.

Before the show began, the distinguished guests would go into the Town Hall for a short speech by the Major of Maastricht and the signing to the guest book. Then they would get out again and pose for the media for a moment.

The guests took their seats and the show began. I'll be honest: I didn't care for it (and when I took a look at my timeline on Twitter, many shared my view), though a few poems were nice and I really liked the violin ensemble, which combined their sound with some modern beats. The fashion was too much I think, which made it seem like the guests were attending a fashion show. Well, I looked at the royals for most of the time anyway. The Grand Duke and Queen Máxima, who were seated next to each other, seemed to have a great time anyway: they shared many laughs together.

After an hour the 'spectacle' was over and the guests left. Fortunately, there was no rain during the show (the forecast was quite bad). The guests left for an international congress and we decided to get a drink and do some shopping.

Before having dinner, I couldn't resist waiting for the royal bus to come by for some last snapshot. It was a lucky one! BTW: I love the practical interior of the royal bus: very sensible, those holes in the table for drinks! You don't want to spill on your expensive frocks during a bumpy ride, do you?!

After that, we were starved and had dinner in a nice (and cheap!) little restaurant in another beautiful and surprisingly quiet part of the city centre. Travel advice: visit Maastricht some time! To me, it's the most beautiful city in the Netherlands.

Thanks for the ladies at Luxarazzi for giving me the honour of writing a piece for their fantastic blog, which is really one of my favourites (they do a great job, don't they?)!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

200th Anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa are in the Dutch town of Maastricht today, where they participated in an event marking the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands alongside King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, as well as German President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt. While the Grand Duchess sported an outfit which looks like a creation by Natan, the Grand Duke honoured his hosts by chosing a Nassau-coloured tie.

The event today under the motto "Hello World" is part of a series of Dutch celebrations marking the 200th anniverary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which already started last year and will run till next year. Together the with their guests from their two neighbouring countries, Germany and Belgium, as well as Luxembourg, the Dutch royal couple enjoyed a musical fashion and art show to kick off the days celebrations. The fashion-art show is currently being followed by a congress at the Vrijthof Theatre entitled "Hello World!: Reflections on the Netherlands" including a speech by the German President.

After a short visit to the Preuvenemint, Maastricht’s annual culinary festival, the royal and presidential visitors will proceed to the Gouvernement aan de Maas (offices of the provincial government), where they will be greeted by a delegation from the citizens’ militia, the St Caecilia Royal Brass Band from Puth and giant puppets. The visit by the four heads of state will close with a dinner organised by the provincial government.

More pictures of the day can be found at ANP #1, ANP #2, RTL Nieuws, Belga and probably all over the (Dutch-speaking) internet.

(Almost) Daily Business

In what seems like the most common of all Liechtenstein engagements, Hereditary Prince Alois welcomed four new ambassadors to Liechtenstein at Schloss Vaduz yesterday to receive their credentials. The ambassadors presenting their letters of credence were Ado Elhadji Abou of Niger, Vaanchig Purevdorj of Mongolia, Rod Harris of New Zealand and Mehmet Tugrul Gücük or Turkey.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wedding of Princess Amélia de Orléans e Bragança

L-R: Anunciata & Astrid of Liechtenstein, the bride and groom, Xenia of Croÿ & Ludwig of Bavaria, Charlotte of Nassau
Photos: Point de Vue
On August 16, Princess Amélia de Orléans e Bragança, daughter of Prince Antônio and his wife née Princess Christine de Ligne and thus granddaughter of Grand Duke Jean's sister Princess Alix, married Alexander James Spearman at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo in Rio de Janeiro. Among those who attended the Brazilian nuptials were Princess Anunciata and Princess Astrid, daughters of Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus, as well as Princess Charlotte, daughter of Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla.

Several other Luxembourg descendants, such as Princess Xenia of Croÿ and Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, great-grandchildren of Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, or Countess Sophie de Nicolay and her sons Count François and Count Guy as well as Prince Michel de Ligne, his wife Princess Eleonora and their children Princess Alix and Prince Henri (all of them descendants of Princess Alix of Luxembourg), were also among the guests of the wedding.

Lastly because many people are always interested in these matters, Princess Amélia's dress was a creation of British designer Emilia Wickstead and her diamond tiara came from her mother's family, the House of Ligne. For more guests and information, have a look at The Royal Resource.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Schloss Biebrich

Photos: Luxarazzi
Schloss Biebrich, or Biebrich Palace, owes its existence to Count Georg August Samuel of Nassau-Idstein. Upon his appointment to the official role of prince in 1688, he decided to expand his domestic situation to better reflect his new status.

Count Georg August Samuel commissioned architect Julius Ludwig Rothwell to construct his new Baroque masterpiece in Biebrich. He had originally relocated from Idstein to Wiesbaden, the modern-day capital of Hesse, but he later moved his seat of power to the nearby Biebrich, which today is a part of Wiesbaden, in the Rhine Valley.

The palace was completed in 1702, although a second structure, identical to the first, was added in 1706. The first part of the palace, known as the West Pavilion, became Count Georg August Samuel’s stomping-ground, while the East Pavilion was reserved for his wife Henriette Dorothea, born Princess of Oettingen-Oettingen.

In 1707, the count commissioned architect Johann Maximilian von Welsch to unite the West Pavilion with the East Pavilion. The result joined each pavilion with a long gallery that ended in a rotunda. Inside this rotunda was the count’s ballroom, while a private chapel lay beneath the ballroom.

The style of Schloss Biebrich, built as it was at the beginning of the eighteenth century, reflects Baroque architecture at its height. A grand staircase in the West Pavilion, with its large painting of Count Georg August Samuel and his family, still hints at the original richness of décor. Speaking of paintings, another feature of Biebrich Palace is the elaborate fresco featuring Aeneas at Mount Olympus on the ceiling of the rotunda that joins West Pavilion and East Pavilion.

Other Baroque features include the rich color that adorns the outside of the palace, as well as the general opulence inside. The count’s status called for elaborate state rooms in the new palace, another attribute of Baroque style.

Count Georg August Samuel and Henriette Dorothea had twelve children, three of them sons, but sadly none of the sons survived childhood. As a result, the count’s death from smallpox in 1721 ended his family line, and the title passed to the Dukes of Nassau-Usingen. The new successor, Prince Karl of Nassau-Usingen chose Schloss Biebrich as his primary residence, and in 1734, he commissioned architect Friedrich Joachim Michael Stengel to add two more wings to the burgeoning palace.

The main construction ended around 1750, and no further changes were made until landscape architect Friedrich Ludwig von Schell designed the gardens in 1817. Additionally, a large staircase descending to the Rhine was added in 1824.

Schloss Biebrich remained the primary residence of the Dukes of Nassau until the construction of the Wiesbaden City Palace, or Wiesbaden Stadtschloss. At that point, the Biebrich Palace became the summer residence of the Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilberg dukes.

In 1890, Duke Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg became Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and at that point Schloss Biebrich passed into the history of the Luxembourg royals. The palace remained a family retreat until 1935, when Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg officially sold the palace to Prussia. It suffered damage during World War II and then fell into disrepair for several decades. The palace was not restored until the early 1980s. At that time, the State of Hesse took over renovations and made Biebrich Palace the current home of Hesse’s historic preservation agency. The palace garden is currently open to the public, and rooms within the palace itself may be rented for conferences or other events.

Princely Chocolate

Photo: Daniel Ospelt / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Things I never knew existed, Liechtensteiner Fürstenhütchen. Literally prince's or princely little hats or cones, Fürstenhütchen are delicate chocolates filled with melting hazelnut cream made by Swiss chocolatiers according to an original Liechtenstein recipe. Traditionally made out of milk chocolate, starting tomorrow there is also a version with dark chocolate available, and Prince Hans-Adam II was one of the first ones to receive these new sweets from Daniel Herzog of the Hedaco International AG which produces the chocolates. While Schloss Vaduz is usually featured on the chocolate boxes, there is also one available with Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie on it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Americans in Liechtenstein

Photo: Roland Korner / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
This week, a group of congressional staff is on a visit to Liechtenstein to learn about the Principality and its people. Among a bunch of other things, the employees of the United States Congress were received by Hereditary Prince Alois at Schloss Vaduz where they obviously enjoyed a drink and had a chat. (At least judging by the picture above.)

Source: Vaterland

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Attendance By Video

Between August 17 and 20, the World Dyslexia Forum took place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. While searching for a possible attendance by Princess Margaretha, who is the patron of UNESCO's Dyslexia International, I actually discovered that Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa gave the welcome and opening remarks. However, she did not do so in person but by video instead. The Grand Duchess has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1997.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Franz I of Liechtenstein

When Prince Johann II died in 1929 after having reigned over the Principality of Liechtenstein for 70 years, the throne was inherited by his younger brother Prince Franz. However, the headship of the House of Liechtenstein went to the future Prince Franz Josef II. This was the first and only time in history that the House and Principality of Liechtenstein were headed by two different people.

Born on August 28, 1853, at Schloss Liechtenstein in Maria Enzersdorf close to the ancestral home of the princely family south of Vienna, Prince Franz de Paula Maria Karl August was the second son and youngest of eleven children of Prince Alois II and his wife née Countess Franziska Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau. His father's death when he was only five years old marked the infant prince. His mother went into mourning for many years and the relationship with his older brother remained distant.

The young prince was privately educated together with his older sister, Princess Therese, and later attended the Schottengymnasium in Vienna. After graduating from high school, he studied law at the universities of Prague and Vienna. After the end of his studies, he entered the civil services and served as an attaché in the Austro-Hungarian embassy in Brussels for three years between 1879 and 1882.

Upon his brothers request he returned to Vienna and began to work in the management of the Liechtenstein family's own properties. In addition, he started to represent the family on various occassions, something the unsociable Prince Johann II did not enjoy doing. Prince Franz, however, had a very different character and always needed to have lots of people around him. Working for the family left him a lot of free time and so he extensively travelled in both Austria and abroad to learn about art and history.

In the summer of 1888, he entered the Austro-Hungarian military out of of sense of duty. Wilhelm II had just become the German Emperor and his change in policy intensified tensions between the German and the Russian Empires and a fear of war, during which Austria would have fought alongside the Germans, ensured. Prince Franz enlisted in a shooting battalion but quit again when chances of a war were over.

Prince Franz in Liechtenstein
However, he did come close to the Russians in another way. On December 5th, 1894, Prince Franz became the new ambassador of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Russia. After the resignation of the preceding ambassador, the Austrian Emperor wished for someone to take over the post who had already made a name for himself at the tsar's court. The Mürzsteg Agreement signed between the Austro-Hungarian and the Russian Empires was largely drawn up by Prince Franz. After five years he resigned from his post in St Petersburg after disagreements with the Austrian leadership over an alliance with Russia on December 9th, 1899. He subsequently moved to Schloss Wartenstein in Lower Austria and spent his winters in Florence.

Having always had a great interest in both history and Eastern Europe, Prince Franz played an instrumental role in the establishment of the chair of East European studies at the university of Vienna in 1907. The former ambassador to Russia gifted the chair with 10,000 books he had previously bought from Russian historian Vasili Bilbasov. In addition, Prince Franz  was also a supporter of the Archive of Modern History of Austria, the New Austrian Biography, as well as cultural heritage preservation. Being a member of the building commission of Schloss Vaduz between 1904 and 1914, ideally prepared him for his future role as president of the "Imperial and Royal Central Committee for the Study and Preservation of Cultural and Historical Landmarks".

For his efforts he was appointed as a honorary member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He was also made a hereditary peer of House of Lords of the Austrian Imperial Council by Emperor Franz Joseph. Rumours in Vienna had it that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose murder sparked the First World War, wanted to make Prince Franz chancellor once he took the throne. In 1917, he became the 1204th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Prince Franz I and Princess Elsa
When Prince Johann II died on February 11th, 1929, his younger brother ascended to the throne as Prince Franz I. He was the first Fürst to take a greater interest in the country and regularly spent time in the Principality, which he had already started to get to know during regular visits while Schloss Vaduz was renovated. The same year he came to the throne, he married Elisabeth "Elsa" von Gutmann.

While their marriage was seen as a bit of a mésalliance by parts of the Princely Family and not welcomed by nationalistic forces in Liechtenstein, the general population liked their Fürst and Fürstin who regularly spent time in the Principality probably also due to the fact that they were very generous in donating to various causes. (More about their courtship, marriage and why Princess Elsa wasn't welcomed by everyone in an upcoming edition of Luxarazzi 101.)

On March 30th, 1938, Prince Franz I appointed his great-nephew, the future Prince Franz Josef II, as his regent. Even though already 84 years old, Prince Franz died unexpectedly quickly on July 25th that same year while staying at Schloss Feldsberg today known as Valtice. His body was laid in repose at the castle chapel of Lednice and four days later buried at the princely crypt in Vranov near Brno. He was the last Liechtenstein ruler to be buried in what is now the Czech Republic.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

At Home and Not Too Far Away From It

Photo: Christian Flemming / Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
The 5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences is currently taking place at Lake Constance in Germany, just a little more than a stone's throw away from Liechtenstein. On Tuesday, Hereditary Prince Alois was among those to attend the opening where he was pictured with Countess Bettina Bernadotte af Wisborg and some other probably very famous gentleman I don't recognise. This year's Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences is attended by no less than 18 Nobel Laureates and 460 young scientists, plus a few other people as you can see above. For more pictures, have a look here

Today, Austria's minister of justice, Wolfgang Brandstetter, was on a visit to Liechtenstein (and he will continue to do so for the upcoming days as a meeting of the German-speaking ministers of justice is taking place in Vaduz tomorrow and the day after that). On the agenda of the Austrian politician was a visit to Schloss Vaduz where he was received by Hereditary Prince Alois. Pictures of it are available at Volksblatt.

Royally Speaking with Rebecca of Royal Hats

In the newest edition of our Royally Speaking series, I talked to Rebecca of Royal Hats about royal milinery and more.

Photo: Rex Features
I have a confession to make: When it comes to royal hats, I have a thing for the slightly wacky. While I didn't care for her hat at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding, I actually loved Princess Beatrice's butterfly explosion from a few years ago. Is there an unconventional royal hat that you can't help but love?
I was very fortunate to try on the same "Butterfly explosion" (designed by Philip Treacy) in the hat department at Harrods a decade ago and it was absolutely magnificent in person! I think most royal hat followers have a soft spot for wacky millinery and I am no exception. My wacky hat crush is Queen Máxima. She has worn some dramatic and outrageous millinery but has done so with such style confidence. I often don't like her hats but always admire her ability to carry them off as beautifully and successfully as she does.

Who is your favourite hatter of the Grand Ducal Family and why?
Unlike their counterparts in Britain or the Netherlands, members of the Grand Ducal Family are not a hat wearing bunch. While the Grand Duchess wears a hand full of hats during the year for official royal or state visits, the remaining family members sport millinery just for the Octave of Our Lady of Luxembourg, the country's National Day and for family weddings. 
Princess Sibilla in a Dillon Wallwork hat
(Photo: Zimbio)
Despite this, I do admire Princess Sibilla's millinery style. She wears large scale hats with sweeping brims in classic shapes with simple embellishment, often designed by British milliner Dillon Wallwork. Princess Sibilla's hats add to her statuesque elegance and she wears them so very, very well. Princess Tessy has chosen more bold hats in recent years which is great fun to see; I am also fascinated to watch Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie's millinery style develop. For Luxembourg National Day this year, the Grand Duchess wore a hat by British milliner Gina Foster and I thought it was one of the best hats she has worn in recent memory.

Have hats always been your topic of choice when it came to royals or was it somehow a progression from another interest in royalty?
My mother, aunts and grandmother have been loyal followers of the British Royal Family for more than sixty years. They collected books and magazines featuring Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and other members of the family; as a very young girl, I paged through those books many, many, MANY times! Royal watching became a popular hobby in the 1980s when Princess Diana joined the family and the whole world closely watched what she wore. As a young girl during this time, I admired the clothes and amazing jewels but was always fascinated by the hats.

Photo: Dutch Photo Press
If you could design one hat for one royal, which royal would it be and what would the hat look like?
I would love to see Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie adopt a more youthful millinery style that shows off her delicate features to greater effect. This might be thinking too far outside the royal fashion box but there are a number of Australian milliners doing incredibly beautiful work that never appears on a royal head. How marvelous would it be to see the Hereditary Grand Duchess develop a collaborative relationship with one of these talented designers (similar to those between the Duchess of Cornwall and Irish milliner Philip Treacy, the Countess of Wessex and British milliner Jane Taylor or Queen Mathilde and Belgian designer Fabienne Delvigne).

Lastly, if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would find an invitation in their mailbox?
There are six particularly fearless royal hat wearers who immediately come to mind: Queen Elizabeth, Princess Beatrix, Queen Mathilde, Queen Máxima, the Countess of Wessex and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai. I would love to hear each of these royal ladies' approach to hat wearing, their funniest stories involving hats and how much input they have (or would like to have) in the design process. Of course, dinner would not be complete without asking about their favourite and least favourite hats.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Bulgarian Fringe Tiara

Princess Marie and Prince Gundakar of Liechtenstein recently marked their silver wedding anniversary with a mass in the Lower Austrian village of St. Christophen celebrated by the auxiliary bishop of Salzburg, Andreas Laun. Here at Luxarazzi, we are going to have some celebrations of our own by having a look at the wedding tiara worn by Princess Marie on her big day.
Sophie of Württemberg, Marie of Liechtenstein, Maria Luisa of Bulgaria, Margarethe of Württemberg
Prince Gundakar, a second cousin of Prince Hans-Adam II, and his wife née Princess Marie of Orléans, oldest daughter of Prince Henri, Count of Paris and his first wife Duchess Marie Thérèse of Württemberg, tied the knot on July 29, 1989, in Friedrichhafen on the German side of Lake Constance. Their choice of wedding venue - the childhood home of Princess Marie's mother - caused quite a fuss with the bride's family - more on it here - and so it might not be the biggest surprise that she chose (or wasn't given the chance to chose) a tiara not traditionally associated with the Orléans family.

Instead, the wore a diamond fringe tiara that seems to have originated with Princess Maria Luisa of Bulgaria. Born as the eldest daughter of Duke Robert I of Parma, and thus an older half-sister of Empress Zita of Austria and Prince Felix of Luxembourg, she was the first wife of Prince Regnant Ferdinand of Bulgaria, who would go on to become the country's tsar after her death.

In 1924, Princess Maria Luisa's daughter Nadezhda married Duke Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg. Both the couple's daughters, Duchess Margarethe and Duchess Sophie of Württemberg, wore their grandmother's fringe tiara for their weddings, as apparently did their first cousin once removed Princess Marie of Orléans at her wedding to Prince Gundakar of Liechtenstein.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Giving the Swedes a Run for Their Money

Point de Vue / Exclusiv
Showing that not only the Swedes can recycle children's clothes worn (more than a) decade(s) ago were the Liechtensteins, or more precisely Sophie von Lattorff, on the Principality's national day last Friday. The youngest daughter of Princess Tatjana and her husband Philipp von Lattorff wore the same dress (minus the sash) as Princess Marie-Caroline, only daughter of Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie, or one of the other flower girls at the wedding of young Sophie's parents 15 years ago.

Speaking of the lot, check out Exclusiv's very lovely galleries of visuals of this year's national day in which you can see a seemingly ageless Princess Tatjana, her children, Hereditary Prince Alois talking to his daughter and Countess Giorgiana of Arco, Prince Stefan, Prince Michael and his daughters Gisela and Thera, lots of waving, fair fun, a princely selfie and so much more! Also have a look at this video by 1 FL TV featuring interviews with Prince Hans-Adam and Hereditary Prince Alois as well as quite a bit of footage of the Princely Family during the morning activities.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Merville-Franceville

Photos: Twitter of Olivier Paz
Princess Marie-Astrid and her husband Archduke Carl-Christian of Austria were in Merville-Franceville near Caen in the Normandy region today where they participated in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the French town by the Brigade Piron during World War II. The Belgian 1st Infantry Brigade, better known as the Brigade Piron after its commander Jean-Baptiste Piron, was a military unit consisting of Belgian and Luxembourgish soldiers during the Second World War. They liberated Merville-Franceville from the Germans on August 17 and 18, 1944. Fun fact: Princess Marie-Astrid and the mayor of Merville-Franceville, Olivier Paz, attended school together in Paris.

For more pictures, have a look at the Twitter of mayor Olivier Paz.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ursel / Harcourt Wedding

On August 2, Countess Philippine d'Ursel, daughter of Count Lancelot d'Ursel and his wife née Countess Nathalie d'Oultremont, married Count Maximilian d'Harcourt, son of Count Olivier d'Harcourt and his wife née Catherine de Bazelaire de Boucheporn. Among the guests of the wedding, which took place at Château Guillaume near Lignac, France, were Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha as well as Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla with their three sons, Prince Paul-Louis, Prince Léopold and Prince Jean.

Source: Point de Vue (With a special thanks to Duchess for letting me know!)

Princely Wine Business

Photo: Exclusiv
While Prince Constantin, Princess Marie and their three children did not attend yesterday's national day in Liechtenstein due to long planned travels, the Austrian-based couple recently gave an interview to Liechtenstein magazine exclusiv about Prince Constantin's work for the Foundation Prince Liechtenstein and Princess Marie's involvement with marketing, sales and distribution of the wines of the Hofkellerei des Fürsten von Liechtenstein.

To cut a long-ish interview short, Princess Marie talks about becoming a sommeliere, how to combine the old and the new while marketing wines as well as the family's own wine shop. Meanwhile, Prince Constantin answers questions about the consumer behaviour in the Asian market, his job as CEO of the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation which manages many of the Princely Family's estates and firms as well as that he and his family won't be attending the national day celebrations in Liechtenstein due to long planned travels even though they usually make it a priority as he likes to meet old friends from school days again and it is also a chance to reflect on the Principality's history, identity and future.

The whole interview is available online on the website of exclusiv.

P.S. Pictures, Videos and More

Photos: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Waiting for pictures and videos of Liechtenstein's national day to become available is always a bit of a trial of patience but this year seems like a special ordeal, it probably doesn't help that yesterday was a Friday, thus today a Saturday, which is not a workday but weekend. However, as we don't want to leave you waiting, here we go with those links already available. (The post will be updated with more pictures and videos whenever they became available, so make sure to check back later!)

While Vaterland offers galleries of visuals of the act of state and the garden party as well as the fair in Vaduz, Volksblatt has one of the morning activities and another gallery of the evening ones (if you skip ahead behind the 52 firework photos in the beginning).

Video-wise Austrian ORF has a short report about national day, as do Swiss SRF and Swiss TVO. 1 FL TV has videos of Hereditary Prince Alois's speech as well as the speech of the President of Parliament. As every year, they also had a broadcast including interviews with various people, usually including members of the Princely Family, but that one isn't available online yet.

As not an awful lot of photos and videos especially of yesterday evening have been published yet, it's a bit hard to tell which family members were out and about to mingle with the people at the fair last night. Prince Hans-Adam and Princess Marie as well as Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie were certainly there as they, among other things, welcomed 104-year-old German tourist Eleonora Kastner from Berlin to the Principality. "Granny Ella", as she is called, already spent her 101th birthday three years ago in Liechtenstein and has visited the country nine times since. She was especially delighted to meet the Hereditary Princess as both of them were born in Bavaria.

Friday, August 15, 2014

National Day: State Ceremony and Garden Party

Photos: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
While the rest of the (Catholic) world is celebrating the Feast of Assumption of the Virgin Mary today, the Principality of Liechtenstein is having its national day. First taking place in 1940, August 15 was actually chosen as national day for that exact reason: The day already was a public holiday in the Principality and it thus meant that no day of productivity was lost. (Plus, the late Prince Franz Josef's birthday was on August 16 but I just love the thriftiness of Liechtenstein's government, "No, you really don't need another day off, dear citizens.")

While this year in general is the year of the silver throne jubilee of the Prince Hans-Adam II, today's national day marks the 10th anniversary of Hereditary Prince Alois becoming his father's regent in 2004. Reasons enough for a numerous attendance by members of the Princely Family: Thus far I spotted the Prince Hans-Adam and the Princess Marie, the Hereditary Prince Alois and the Hereditary Princess Sophie with three of their four children Princess Marie-Caroline, Prince Georg and Prince Nikolaus, as well as Princess Tatjana and her husband Philipp von Lattorff with their children Lukas, Elisabeth, Marie, Camilla, Anna, Sophie and Maximilian. In addition, there were Prince Nikolaus, Prince Stefan, Prince Michael with his daughters Princess Thera and Princess Gisela as well as Princess Maria-Pia. A special guest was Countess Giorgiana of Arco-Zinneberg, youngest daughter of Archduchess Maria Beatrix of Austria.

During his speech the President of Parliament Albert Frick thanked both the Prince and Hereditary Prince for their contribution and work for the Principality. Even though he believes it is too early to summarise Prince Hans-Adam's reign, Frick said that Liechtenstein joining both the United Nations in 1990 and the European Economic Area in 1995 will always be connected to the Fürst's name. He added that the ten years of Hereditary Prince Alois' regency have assured the country's population that the Principality is in very good hands.

Since becoming regent in 2004, Hereditary Prince Alois has always held the speech traditionally given by the head of state on national day and this year was no different. During his speech he talked about how every citizen of Liechtenstein should make their own little contribution to the balance of the state budget by only taking government benefits and subsidies when it is really necessary, and a number of other topics.

After the end of the official ceremony on the castle meadow, Liechtenstein's population and tourists are traditionally invited by the Princely Family to come join them for a garden party in the - surprise, surprise - gardens of Schloss Vaduz where everyone can have a drink and mingle with their serene and royal highnesses.

Almost 100 visuals of the official ceremony and the garden party can be found at Vaterland. Volksblatt has a video of the Hereditary Prince's speech.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Three Generations

Photo: Information und Kommunikation der Regierung
We already talked about the interview rate of the Princely Family yesterday and today there is another one though it actually is a little special as it was jointly given by the Prince Hans-Adam, who is celebrating his 25th throne jubilee this year, the Hereditary Prince Alois, who is celebrating his 10th anniversary as regent this year, and his oldest son Prince Wenzel, who is probably also celebrating something this year, if nothing else, his graduation from school. 

In the interview to the new magazine "oho", which is available here and even features very short English summaries, the Principality's past, present and future rulers talk about all kinds of stuff like politics and the future of Liechtenstein. Most interesting question for royal watchers probably is the one on how to raise an heir to the throne to which Hereditary Prince Alois replies, "Apart from the regular education that every parent tries to give their children, I tell my son about my daily work as the acting head of state and try to give him advise on how to best prepare for it. That also includes advise on which subjects to chose in school as well as which internships, course of studies at university and which work experiences would be most helpful."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Interviews and More Interviews

Photo: Elma Korac / Liechtensteiner
Vaterland /
With Liechtenstein's national day right around the corner - well, more already ahead of us on a straight stretch considering that it takes place on the day after tomorrow - the already not interview shy Princely Family is going all out. Both of the Principality's newspapers, Vaterland and Volksblatt, are featuring interviews with Prince Hans-Adam and Hereditary Prince Alois in their special national day edition.

Vaterland also offers parts of their interview with the Hereditary Prince online, see here and here. Among a number of other topics the heir to Liechtenstein's throne talks about the need for more reforms "to balance our state budget and to make our social security system financially sustainable as well as to improve our educational system", how the influence of the Prince is sometimes over- and at other times underestimated, and how he thinks about his ten years as the Principality's regent.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Royally Speaking with Order of Splendor

To keep us busy over the summer, we are doing an interview series featuring some of our favourite royal bloggers (in no particular order). In today's edition I talked to the person behind Order of Splendor about our mutual love of Elie Saab and how royal fashion can be used in a diplomatic way.

I think I discovered your blog sometime around the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. For how long have you actually been running Order of Splendor and what made you want to start your own blog in the first place?
Photo: Zimbio
I started blogging just before Victoria's wedding, June 2010. I suppose you could say I started for purely selfish reasons - I wanted to talk about the topics I wanted to talk about, in the way I wanted to talk about them. It remains a surprise to me that anyone else tunes in, really!

These days many princesses and queens are often judged by what they are wearing and which designers they are sporting. Do you think this is a recent development or maybe has there always been a certain focus on royal fashion but through the internet et al it has simply become a much quicker world-wide phenomenon? And how do you judge how they are judged, is the fashion aspect an important one to you?
There are examples of royal fashion trend-setting going back centuries, today's media and technology just allows for a wider and faster influence. The ladies (and gentlemen) at a royal court may have been the ones with the access and means to copy royal fashions once upon a time, but now anyone with an internet connection can tune in and do the same. Occasionally royal fashion can be used in a diplomatic way - wearing a French label on a visit to France, for example - but I consider it mainly a secondary concern. The fashion aspect is only important to me in the sense that it can be fun and frivolous, and everyone can do with a bit of fun and frivolity in their lives (hence why I chose to blog about these sorts of topics!).

Photo: AFP
It’s not a secret that both you and I love Elie Saab’screations. If you could steal any Saab dress from the grand ducal wardrobe, which one would it be?
Go big or go home, I say: I'll take Stéphanie's wedding gown, thanks.

Imagine you could be locked up in a royal jewellery vault for a night, which monarchy's jewellery vault would you want it to be and which tiara would you try to smuggle out to take home afterwards?
I'll be predictable for someone that also runs a blog about Queen Elizabeth II's jewels and say I'd lock myself away in the British vault(s). I'd snag the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara for myself, and while I'm at it, solve the mystery of just how much stuff is stashed away there once and for all.

Lastly if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, which ones would find an invitation in their mailbox? (And which tiaras would the ladies in your group be wearing?)
Four ladies that seem like they'd be up for a bit of gossip and a good laugh: the Duchess of Cornwall (wearing the Delhi Durbar Tiara), Crown Princess Victoria (in the tiara belonging to the late Estelle Bernadotte that the royal family has maybe/possibly/or maybe not bought back), Queen Máxima (really anything she's never worn before would do), and Sweden's late Princess Lilian (in the Leuchtenberg Sapphires, which she didn't get to wear during her lifetime). And let's add two gentlemen that always seem to be having the most fun: Prince Henrik and Prince Harry.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Prince Guillaume Takes Over from Belgian Queen

As it was announced now, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians resigned from her position as a member of the board of directors of the "Astrida Foundation" in November last year, a short while after her husband became the Belgian souverain. Why this is news on this blog? Her job was taken over by Prince Guillaume, a first cousin of King Philippe of the Belgians.

The "Astrida Foundation" was created by the late King Baudouin of the Belgians, brother of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, and his wife Queen Fabiola in 1992. The objective of the foundation is to ensure financial support of the royal couple’s nephews, nieces and their descendants in their religious, scientific, artistic and educational endeavours, as well as to give to Catholic organisations.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Double Diamond Riviere Necklaces

If one thing, the Grand Ducal Family certainly is not short of diamond necklaces best demonstrated by this picture of Grand Duchess Charlotte and two of her daughters wearing all together four goodies featuring some honking diamonds. Of course there is also the Congo Diamond Tiara which can and has been worn as a necklace, same goes for the accompanying bracelet which has also been sported as a necklace. And then there's Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie's very own diamond necklace (or so it appears).

These two we are talking about today seem to have been a particular favourite of Grand Duchess Charlotte who regularly wore them for all kinds of bejewelled occasions. The smaller of the two diamond necklaces, which traditionally are worn together, features 35 diamonds, while the larger one consists of 45 diamond stones mounted in gold and silver. Originating in the 19th century, many of the stones used to create the necklace can already be found in the jewellery inventory of the House of Nassau of June 1859.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Oben am jungen Rhein, Liechtenstein's National Anthem

While 98 percent of the world's population probably couldn't find Liechtenstein on a map, roughly about the same amount of people would probably recognise the melody of the Principality's national anthem even though they likely wouldn't identify it as such. Set to the same tune as the British anthem "God Save the Queen", the melody probably found its way into the Principality with the help of students and soldiers coming back home to Liechtenstein after spending time abroad; after all the Russian Imperial anthem "The Prayer of Russians", the former Swiss national anthem "Rufst du, mein Vaterland", the Norwegian royal anthem "Kongesangen" as well as the German Imperial anthem "Heil dir im Siegerkranz" were all set to the same melody.

If you, however, dare to listen a bit more closely, you will notice that there are a few slight differences between Liechtenstein's anthem "Oben am jungen Rhein", which literally translates to 'Up above the young Rhine', and the British "God Save the Queen". After it had been played in various musical keys for decades, a universal setting by Josef Frommelt was introduced upon request by the government in 1983.

Just how old the melody originally is and who its creator is, nobody knows. The first published version of what is almost the present tune of the British national anthem appeared in 1744. The origins of Liechtenstein's "Oben am jungen Rhein" are similarly shady. The first mention of a national anthem dates back to the year 1895 when the Liechtensteiner Volksblatt wrote that thousands of people sang the Landeshymne at the opening of the second national exhibition.

Originally a poem, the text of the anthem is believed to have been written by Jakob Josef Jauch, a Swiss chaplain who worked in the municipality of Balzers for a while during the 1850's. However, much like the melody, the lyrics have undergone slight adaptations since then to make it both more singable and to remove unwanted bits.

The text used to include various references to Germany such as "Up above the German Rhine", "Within the German fatherland" and more. After all the Principality of Liechtenstein is the last relict of the 343 states which once made up the Holy Roman Empire, as it is known in English, or "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" as it is known in German. Already since 1918 there had been various attempts to change the lyrics though an official new version without any references to Germany was only introduced in 1963. At the same time three of the five stanzas were dropped.

The text of "Oben am jungen Rhein" since 1963:

Oben am jungen Rhein
Lehnet sich Liechtenstein
An Alpenhöh'n.
Dies liebe Heimatland,
Das teure Vaterland
Hat Gottes weise Hand
Für uns erseh'n

Hoch lebe Liechtenstein,
Blühend am jungen Rhein,
Glücklich und treu.
Hoch leb' der Fürst vom Land,
Hoch unser Vaterland,
Durch Bruderliebe Band
Vereint und frei.
Up above the young Rhine
Lies Liechtenstein, resting
On Alpine heights.
This beloved homeland,
This dear fatherland
Was chosen for us
By God's wise hand.

Long live Liechtenstein,
Blossoming on the young Rhine,
Fortunate and faithful!
Long live the Prince of the Land,
Long live our fatherland,
Through bonds of brotherly love
United and free!
And there's one other thing that you can't miss mentioning whenever talking about Liechtenstein's national anthem... Twice (at "Long live the Prince of the Land" and at "Long live our fatherland") Liechtensteiners raise their right arm to give cheers to the Fürst as well as the country. Some form a Schwurhand, a hand gesture that is used in central Europe when swearing an oath in court, in office or in swearing-in, while other leave the hand as it is, which occasionally can look a bit like that other salute.

The origins of the gesture in Liechtenstein, however, go back much further than Germany's Nazi history. Even further than Liechtenstein's history itself as it was firstly used in 1699 during the oath of allegiance during the homage to the new owner of the demesne of Schellenberg, Prince Hans-Adam I of Liechtenstein, who had bought the lands from the Counts of Hohenems. In 1719, Emperor Karl VI united Schellenberg as well as the County of Vaduz and elevated them to the rank of a Principality with the name "Liechtenstein" in honour of "[his] true servant, Anton Florian of Liechtenstein."