Saturday, February 14, 2015

Three Generations: Interview with Prince Wenzel

Photo: Daniel Ospelt / Vaterlandmagazin
After the first generation's and the second generation's, here's the third generation's interview to mark Prince Hans-Adam's 70th birthday. The interviewed, Prince (Joseph-)Wenzel, is the oldest son of Hereditary Prince Alois and thus second in line to Liechtenstein's throne. The questions were asked by Niki Eder for Vaterlandmagazin. The English translation is by Luxarazzi.

Serene Highness, in May of last year you finished Malvern College with the International Baccalaureate and will soon start university. How are you enjoying this time of absolute freedom?
After all the examination stress I do enjoy this free time very much. I decided long ago that I would take a gap year between College and starting university. You don't have this chance very often and I wanted to make use of it.

What do you do with your gap year?
I planned three things for my year off: As I have always been a fan of different cultures and countries, I wanted to travel and see a bit of the world. In addition, I wanted to get a bit of work experience under my belt and thirdly I wanted to learn another language, specifically Spanish. After an internship with the U.S. Senate last summer - a very interesting and fascinating experience especially as this work was very political - I could really combine all three aspects in South America. I spent five months until Christmas there. In the beginning, I attended a language school, then I worked a little for a company to gain more experience with my Spanish in everyday life, and lastly I travelled around with some friends from school.

Where did your travels around South America lead you?
Our backpacking tour led us through Peru and Bolivia. We wanted to experience local life, culture and the beauty of nature first hand. It was such a great time and a beautiful journey.

When a prince goes backpacking, does it look like for every person else? Or are there special measures being taken?
(Laughs.) My backpacking tour went like it does for everyone else.

Doesn't it cause a turmoil if someone with your family name checks into a hotel?
Luckily not. Most people don't really know our country. So it doesn't attract attention when you check into a hotel as a backpacker. At least I have never had problems with my name. I have to say that I really enjoyed to fly under the radar for a while.

What impressed you most during your journey?
We had many great experiences. One time we climbed a six-thousander, that was an extraordinary thing. You really notice how thin the air gets. Also to see the salt flat in Bolivia with my own eyes was amazing. 

It is still a while until the new university term starts. Do you have any more travels or other plans until then?
At the moment I concentrate on Asia where I will do some travelling. In addition, I would like to get a little more work experience, preferably in the Spanish speaking world to enhance my knowledge of the language. 

You spent Christmas and New Year's at Schloss Vaduz. Could you make use of the time to indulge in your passion, skiing?
Thankfully the snow finally came for Christmas. So I did use the chance to go off onto the piste. Alpine skiing really is the sport that is most fun to me.

Can you tell us what your favourite skiing region is?
In Malbun [Liechtenstein] my father taught me how to ski. I still remember how I held onto his ski stick and drove behind him. I still like to go to Malbun, especially if I only have time for a day. If I want to ski a little more, I often go to the Arlberg [in Austria, between the states of Vorarlberg and Tyrol], simply because the skiing area is much bigger and thus there's more variety. 

In October, your first term of university will start. Do you already know where your way will lead you?
I will probably go the legal way and maybe then an MBA to balance out the law with some economics. I'm not sure yet where I will study. For my legal studies the German-speaking countries make most sense as they are most similar to Liechtenstein's legal system. For the MBA there will be more options where to study.

Can you follow your heart when deciding what to study or is the way already smoothed by your father and grandfather? Your grandfather and father already studied economics and law, respectively.
I was totally free in my decision. But of course certain studies will be more helpful in my later life than others. That's without question.

You spent the last few years attending school in England. Was it hard for you to leave?
Well, it did rain a lot there. (Laughs.) Anyhow, I did have a incredibly great time at Malvern. I especially enjoyed life at boarding school.

By starting to attend Malvern College in 2011 at the age of 16, you already moved out from home quite early on. Were you ever homesick?
Not really. In England I have friends who already left home at the age of eight to attend boarding school. Most of the students arrived there at 13. So I was quite late to the game and one of the older new arrivals. The distance wasn't a big thing for me as I could come home quite often. At least every six weeks and of course for the school holidays. So being homesick was never a problem, in difference to students from Asia or South America who only saw their family's during winter break. 

If you enjoyed life in boarding school, you will probably also enjoy life as a student.
Pretty certainly. While in school there is a certain timetable to follow so I think student life will be more free in this regard. The freedom is only one thing I look forward to though. The focus will certainly be on my legal studies as this topic has fascinated me for a long time. Finally I will be able to concentrate on one thing that I'm interested in and don't have to - like in school - sit through subjects I wasn't all that interested in. 

Does a prince live in a shared flat or does he have one of his own?
I'm not quite sure about that yet. If I look at the members of my family, there certainly are both options. I have to find the best way for myself. Maybe I will already have friends who attend that same university and then we will move in together. 

Under the heading friends: Are you still in contact with your old school friends from Liechtenstein or is your circle of friends mainly made up of school mates from Malvern College?
Every time I'm here, I try to meet up with my Liechtenstein friends. Sometimes we have a night out but most of the times we meet at either their or my place. It's important to me to keep these contacts alive. 

Has it always been this way that you could spontaneously invite your friends to your home?
That has always been the case. Our living areas look totally normal - as such it wasn't even a special thing for my friends to come to the castle. Only the rooms that are used for official events look more representative. I could always also visit my friends whenever I wanted to. The same thing applies to my siblings now. Whenever I'm in Liechtenstein, I'm practically their private chauffeur. (Laughs.) All in all, I had a very normal childhood.

What role did your grandfather Prince Hans-Adam play in your childhood and teenage years? Did you spent a lot of time with him?
We may live in seperated areas in the castle but whenever I had a question, I could go and see him. We always did a lot of things together - from skiing to fishing. Apart from sports, he sometimes read or told us stories and we simply sat there and listened to him attentively. You could always learn many things from him. We still have a good relationship, he is a great grandfather.

Often grandfathers and grandmothers allow their grandchildren more than the parents do. Has that also been the case for you?
That was more the case with my grandmother. But it's not the task of the grandparents to teach discipline to their grandchildren, is it. (Laughs.)

How has the fact that you one day will become Fürst influenced your upbringing?
When I was a small child, it wasn't a major topic for me that I would one day become The Prince. At some point I reached an age when I became aware of it. However, I can't recall a moment when I was told that I would one day become Fürst. Somehow it was simply normal that this would be my way.

And how were and are you being prepared for your future role?
Up to this day, there hasn't been a special training. Maybe I will have possibilities in the future to attend special courses that will teach me important skills. Generally I have always paid attention to the tasks my father and grandfather fulfill and how they do it. For a short while now, my father has taken me with him for meetings and such so that I can sit in the background, observe and learn from him. I believe that this way it will be a natural and automatic process to grow into my future role. 

Are there moments during which you have respect or are maybe even a little frightened of the responsibilites that lie ahead of you? 
The awareness is certainly there - even though the thought isn't present in every moment. But I was never frightened of the role. More respect - in a positive way.

Have you never dreamed of escaping from the given path?
I think that I have never had this wish - even though I dreamt of being a big football (soccer) star when I was a child. Unfortunately that never worked out. (Laughs.) That the wish to take a different path never came up probably also has to do with the fact that I still have a few years left during which I can try out different things and concentrate on my career. My father took over from my grandfather a few years and not immediately after finishing university. 

Are there any visions you have for Liechtenstein's future or things you want to realise one day. Or things that are especially close to your heart?
Visions that I would now have for Liechtenstein's future would be either irrelevant and outdated or already implemented by the time I got to the throne. So I don't think about those at the moment.

To finish things off:  Your grandfather celebrates his 70th birthday on February 14. What's your personal wish for him on this special day?
I wish all blessing and health to my grandfather for hopefully many more years. That he will remain such a great grandfather as he is now.

And we're still not done yet. Up next is what the ladies of Prince Hans-Adam's life - namely Princess Marie, Princess Tatjana, Hereditary Prince Sophie and Princess Marie-Caroline - have to say about their husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather.


  1. I have really been enjoying these interviews. Very well done!

  2. Yes! I know so little about these people, it's great to have them in the spotlight.

  3. I too have enjoyed these interviews and have learned quite a number of things that I would like to use in my own life, and one day pass on to my children if I should be so blessed.