Thursday, July 30, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Alois of Liechtenstein & Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria

Two of the most influential historic figures in the Liechtenstein princely family never reigned, but nevertheless became the ancestors of the current ruling line through a unique set of circumstances designed to save the family fortunes.  They were among the first members of the Princely Family to live in the country full-time, and their marriage brought significant attention, glamour, and even a little controversy to the Principality. Today we'll be looking into the lives of Prince Alois of Liechtenstein and Archduchess Elisabeth Amalie of Austria, the parents of Franz Josef II.

Born on June 17, 1869, in Hollenegg, Austria, Prince Alois was the second son and fourth child of Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein (grandson of Prince Johann I of Liechtenstein) and Princess Henriette of Liechtenstein (daughter of Prince Alois II of Liechtenstein).  Alois was born and raised in Vienna, as were many members of the Liechtenstein princely family at that time. He attended the Schottengymnasium, a prestigious Catholic primary and secondary school in Vienna, where Alois was known as quiet, studious, and a bit of a bookworm.

Alois in his military days
Upon completion of his education, Alois joined the Austrian Army as part of the Imperial and Royal Uhlans, a division of the cavalry. He served as a captain and later a lieutenant colonel in Slovenia and Hungary, continuing on during World War I when he earned the respect of his troops.

Elisabeth was born in Reichenau, Lower Austria, on July 7, 1878.  She was the younger of two daughters of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria (brother of Emperor Franz Joseph) and his third wife, Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal.  Elisabeth's sister, Maria Annunziata, was two years older. Elisabeth also had several half-siblings from her father's second marriage, the most notable being Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose murder sparked the First World War. Elisabeth's mother fulfilled most of the official duties of Empress Elisabeth at court, after the latter avoided Vienna following the death of her son Rudolf in 1889.  As such, Elisabeth grew up at the Imperial Court and was present at many of its functions prior to her marriage.

Elisabeth (r) with Maria Annunziata
Elisabeth, along with her mother and sister, were the only members of the Imperial family present at the July 1900 wedding of her half-brother Franz Ferdinand to Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. Maria Theresa was one of the few Austrian Imperials to support the morganatic marriage. Ironically, the scandal caused by Franz Ferdinand's marriage would have an unexpectedly positive effect on Elisabeth's choice for a spouse.

It is unknown how Elisabeth and Alois first met, but given Alois' presence in Vienna and Elisabeth's prominence at the Imperial Court, it was likely the two first became acquainted at a court function. Rumors of a Liechtenstein-Austrian engagement began to appear in the press during the middle of 1902, when it was reported that a marriage was being arranged between Elisabeth and Johannes of Liechtenstein, Alois' younger brother.

At around the same time, the press was eager to set Elisabeth up with at least one other Catholic prince. In August 1902, Austrian newspaper Neues Wiener Tagblatt reported that an engagement between the princess and her distant cousin, Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará, was forthcoming.  Pedro was the son of Isabel, the heiress to the defunct Brazilian imperial throne. Pedro later made a morganatic marriage to a Czech countess.  

The engagement between Alois and Elisabeth was announced on November 8, 1902, at Schloss Laxenburg, one of the summer palaces of the Imperial family.  Prince Johann II gave permission for the marriage a few days later as a matter of course.

Alois and Elisabeth at the time of their engagement
There was naturally concern at first that the marriage would be unequal, being that Alois had long held Austrian citizenship. Marriage to one of Elisabeth uncle's subjects would have rendered the union unequal in terms of rank. This would have meant Elisabeth would be forced to give up her Imperial status.  Maria Theresa was prepared to use her good relationship with Emperor Franz Joseph to convince him that as Alois did come from a regnant house, and so the marriage would be equal. For his part, Alois had already planned to smooth the way by relinquishing his Austrian citizenship in favor of Liechtenstein citizenship granted by Johann II.

Emperor Franz Joseph, however, was delighted that his niece wished to marry an actual prince following the scandal of Franz Ferdinand's controversial marriage. Franz Joseph gave his blessing for the union and was even present at Laxenburg when the engagement was announced.

Alois and Elisabeth married in Vienna on April 20, 1903, with the Emperor in attendance.  The couple honeymooned at Schloss Feldburg in Lower Austria, the main home of then ruling Prince Johann II.  Johann was reportedly so excited about his cousin's marriage to a member of the Imperial family that he "sent the bride the most magnificent presents."  Among these gifts were an exquisite diamond tiara in an arabesque shape. The tiara features two solitaires, one in the center of a diamond rosette and the second at the top of the tiara. The current whereabouts of this tiara are unknown.  

The couple's first child, the future Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein, was born at Schloss Frauenthal on August 16, 1906.  Alois and Elisabeth named him Franz Josef, in honor of the Emperor and uncle who helped ensure the marriage was considered equal. The elder Franz Joseph stood godfather for his grand nephew and namesake.

Aloys and Elisabeth with baby Franz Josef
Alois and Elisabeth had seven other children after Franz Josef:

- Maria Theresia (1908-1973)
- Karl Alfred (1910-1985)
- Georg Hartmann (1911-1998)
- Ulrich Dietmar (1913-1978)
- Marie Henriette (1914-2011)
- Alois Heinrich (1917-1967)
- Heinrich Hartneid (1920-1993)

The couple spent most of their married life raising their family at castles in Hungary, Austria and what is now the Czech Republic, including Frauenthal, Velké Losiny, and Stuhlweissenburg. Prior to World War I, Elisabeth was known for her love of automobiles. This was considered unusual at the time due to her gender, the newness of the technology, and the reluctance of much of the rest of the Imperial family to take interest in cars.  So great was her love of automobiles that she converted most of the stables at her home in Hungary to garages, and hired chauffeurs and mechanics to replace stable hands to care for her 31 automobiles.

Following World War I, Alois and Elisabeth provided financial assistance to their Habsburg relatives left destitute by the conflict.  By 1923, the princely family had weathered a significant decrease in their Czechoslovakian holdings. What was more, the succession laws meant that the family faced a long series of inheritance taxes. Ruling Prince Johann II was 82, his brother and direct heir Franz was 69, and the next heir Franz de Paula (Alois' older brother) was 65.  Alois was third in line and 53. The potential for four rapid deaths of heads of the family would have put the princely fortunes under further financial strain.

Elisabeth, Alois, her sister, their children and in-laws
A radical solution was proposed that would eliminate most of these death duties. The status as head of the family and owner of the fortune would bypass Franz, Franz de Paula, and Alois, passing directly to Franz Josef upon Johann's death. While the elder Franz insisted on having his chance to rule, Franz de Paula and Alois also agreed to remove themselves from the line of succession. Alois officially renounced the princely throne on February 26, 1923.

Elisabeth and Alois moved permanently to Vaduz in 1944. Elisabeth's sister Maria Annunziata also joined the family in Vaduz, where she lived until her death in 1961. Following the death of her mother in 1944, Elisabeth inherited the Habsburg Fringe Tiara. The tiara has been worn by at least two princely family brides as well as by Hereditary Princess Sophie for major events.

Alois died following a bout of influenza on March 17, 1955, in Vaduz. The 85-year-old Prince had been sick for about a week. Alois seemed to be recovering from his illness when he unexpectedly took a turn for the worse.  Five years later, Elisabeth died at the age of 82 on March 13, 1960, also in Vaduz. The two were buried beside one another in the Cathedral of St. Florin's in Vaduz.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (11): Floral Button Tiara vs. Grand Duchess Adélaïde Tiara

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race is coming to you early this mid-week: Already on Tuesday night, you can decide which one of the following tiaras is your favourite but first, let's have a look back: The Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara it was, your winner of the last match of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race, winning against the mystery tiara Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wore at the wedding of Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
And cause the Grand Ducal Family apparently loves themselves a good tiara mystery, here's another one for you: The tiara then Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore to a wedding ball in Germany during the 1980's, which we are going to call the Floral Button Tiara (though it might not be a tiara after all as the floral buttons look remarkably similar to the pendants of a necklace the Grand Duchess owns), vs. the Grand Duchess Adélaïde Tiara full of (known) history.

Get your vote in early and tell us, which one is your favourite and why?
Voting closes on Saturday night, Lux time.

Princess Nora at the Special Olympics

Yesterday, Princess Nora paid a visit to the Liechtenstein Special Olympics football (soccer) team after their tied game with the Czech team. Princess Nora in currently in Los Angeles to support the athletes competing in the Special Olympics.

The Liechtenstein Ambassador to the United States, Claudia Fritsche, is updating her Twitter feed with information about the athletes and the Games.

Here's some information about Princess Nora at the Opening Ceremony.

For good measure, here's a photo of Princess Nora greeting LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Photo Fun with Félix, Claire and Amalia

Photo: Dailymotion / Point de Vue
A few weeks ago and again now, French magazine Point de Vue featured stories about Prince Félix and Priness Claire, their daughter Amalia as well as their home, the Château les Crostes in southern France. Turns out there is also a video of the photo session fun the Luxembourgish trio had... Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Prince Philipp and His Magenta Socks Give Interview.

Photo: Michael Rausch
So, looking for new news occasionally brings up old news. As these ones aren't too old... Prince Philipp recently gave an interview to Austrian magazine Format. While the interview revolves around the usual topics (LGT, finance, etc.), the younger brother of Prince Hans-Adam did rock some magenta socks while giving his interview. More pictures of the socks and the prince at APA.

A Liechtenstein Lesson with Prince Rudolf

Summer break really is here. I don't think we have had actual news for about two weeks but, well, that's how our summers here on Luxarazzi go (and we always have the Tiara Race to keep us busy). And while it isn't strictly news, I recently stumbled over the following Youtube videos...
Photo: Youtube
You might recall that Prince Rudolf and his Turkish-born wife Princess Tılsım attended the Swiss Turkish Economic Forum late last year. During the event, the youngest son of Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein gave a speech about family businesses, specifically his family's business. With it came a short lesson about Liechtenstein history, both the family and the country, as well as - at the end of the second video - a lovely wedding photograph of "my dear wife Tılsım", the Liechtenstein family's "most recent Turkish acquisition and some organic growth" as Prince Rudolf described her with a wink.

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (10): Danish Wedding Tiara vs. Congo Diamond Tiara

Poor Oval Amethyst Tiara, you could think, (all too understandably) never standing any real chance against the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara, your winner of the last match of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race, who took home the win with a whopping 86.46 percent of votes! Will it be as decisive today?
Facing off against each other in the tenth match of the first round of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race are the mystery that was the tiara Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wore to the wedding festivities of Queen Margrethe of Denmark - hence known as Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's Danish Wedding Tiara, likely a diamond and emerald piece (a little more info here) - and the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara. Which one wins your affection?

Note #1: As this discussion often comes up when it comes to the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara due to the country in its name and Belgium's history with it... There's nothing pretty about the mining and acquisition of gems through history, from long ago to the present day, but these diamonds are not what you would define as blood diamonds. The concept of conflict resources, including diamonds, only started to emerge in the 1990's.

Note #2: Voting closes on Tuesday night, Lux time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (9): Oval Amethyst Tiara vs. Vine Leaves Tiara

Who would have thought that: The Nassau Floral Tiara out in the first round of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race losing against Princess Joan's Diamond Tiara. You keep surprising me, ladies and gentlemen! (Not that I'm not for Princess Joan's tiara but it keeps surprising me that such a well-known piece like the Nassau Floral Tiara would lose against a virtually unknown one.)
Today we have two relatively well-known tiaras facing each other: The Oval Amethysts Tiara - more about it in our post about the Grand Ducal Tiara Collection - against the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara. Not a difficult choice pour moi, what about you?

Voting closes on Saturday night, Lux time!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (8): Nassau Floral Tiara vs. Joan's Diamond Tiara

Small but beautiful: In what I think was the closest tiara match yet, the rather small Emerald Peacock Tiara took home the win over the massive Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Tiara with 52.66 percent or 257 vs. 231 votes. It seems that not everyone prefers to live by 'Go big or go home' though admittedly I can understand those who think that a tiara bigger than the head is just a little to big.
Up against each other today are two rather similar pieces: The Nassau Floral Tiara, worn by Archduchess Adelaide on the left and a favourite piece of Princess Alexandra, and Princess Joan's diamond tiara worn by her daughter, Princess Charlotte, on the right above. Charlotte is a cousin of Grand Duke Henri and Joan the wife of the late Prince Charles. (A little more about them in our 101 about their son and brother, the occassionally featured Prince Robert.) More info on both tiaras in our post about the Grand Ducal Tiara Collection.

Remember, this is a three tiara match week, so voting closes on Wednesday night, Lux time.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (7): Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Tiara vs. Emerald Peacock Tiara

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner: Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara took home the win in the second non-closest tiara match of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race thus far. It beat the Aquamarine Tiara by 77.97 percent (or 368) of your votes.
Time for the next match: The Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Tiara, we introduced to you earlier today, worn by Princess Antonia above against the Emerald Peacock Tiara, the necklace turned tiara originally belonging to Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and worn by her daughter Archduchess Marie-Astrid above. Massive vs. dainty - which one gets your vote? (Note: As not much else is going on, we're are making this a three tiara match week, so this post was published on Saturday evening and voting will already close on Monday night, shortly after 9:30pm Luxembourg time.)

Luxarazzi 101: Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Parure

Ever thought the Empire Tiara was massive? Think again, cause you've might just seen a bigger gun: The Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Parure. Those of you following the private me on Instagram already know that I recently visited Munich's Residenz, the former home of the Wittelsbach family turned museum, together with the wonderful Lady & the Rose. The Residenz's treasury features not one but two tiaras once worn by the ladies of the Bavarian royal family - among them the former monarchy's last crown princess, née Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, fourth daughter of Grand Duke Wilhelm IV and Grand Duchess Maria Ana.
For the Luxarazzi Tiara Race we needed a few additional tiaras to complete our draw and so the Luxembourgish connection to the Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Parure was a welcome invitation to include it. Plus, we thought we needed a few rubies in the Race not knowing that Princess Claire would turn up in some just a few days before we launched our summer series. (Pssst: This sparkler will be included in tomorrow's tiara match!)

Princess Antonia firstly got engaged to Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria in 1918 just before the end of the monarchy of what today is Germany. However, the couple was prevented to marry due to political reasons before becoming re-engaged and finally tying the knot in 1921. One of the Bavarian tiaras Antonia wore after her wedding for official portraits was the tiara of the Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Parure. The parure, which is made out of rubies, spinel and diamonds, also includes two bracelets, a necklace and earrings.
Crown Princess Antonia of Bavaria, née Princess of Luxembourg and Nassau
The parure was created by court jeweller Caspar Rieländer around 1830 and a gift from King Ludwig I of Bavaria to his wife née Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. (Fun fact #1: The Theresienwiese, the official ground of the world-famous Oktoberfest, is named for her; fun fact #2: The first Oktoberfest was actually celebrated on the occasion of the wedding of Therese and Ludwig.) Apparently though Queen Therese wasn't the biggest fan of the tiara due to its sheer size and weight, and preferred to wear other (smaller) diadems of the family.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Princess Gina of Liechtenstein

Although we've referred to Princess Gina of Liechtenstein a few times here on Luxarazzi when discussing her husband and children, we haven't yet profiled her in detail. Gina made a considerable impact on her adopted country with her friendly, outgoing personality and generous spirit. Today we'll spend some time getting to know more about Princess Gina, the mother of ruling Prince Hans-Adam and founder of Liechtenstein's largest charitable organization.

Born in Graz, Austria, on October 24, 1921, Georgina Norberta Johanna Franziska Antonie Marie Raphaela von Wilczek was the first child of Count Ferdinand von Wilczek and Countess Norbertine (Nora) Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. Known throughout her life as Gina, she was by birth a member of the Wilczek family, a branch of ancient Silesian nobility. The Wilczeks had long been associated with the Liechtenstein princely family.  One of its most famous members was Gina's great-grandfather Johann Nepomuk, a well-known polar explorer and art collector. Johann was among the members of a commission formed to oversee the restoration of Schloss Vaduz between 1904 and 1914, which would later be his great-granddaughter's home.
Countess Nora Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, Gina's mother 
Count Ferdinand von Wilczek, Gina's father

Gina's mother Nora gained prominence in her own right in the years before her marriage. Nora was a former Red Cross nurse who founded a hospital on the family estate for wounded Austro-Hungarian soldiers at the start of World War I. Nora was later called to be part of a delegation sent by the Austrian war ministry to inspect the conditions of Siberian prisoner of war camps in 1916, observations on which she recorded in a diary. A clever woman, Nora wrote her diary alternately in French, German, Hungarian, and Czech in case the book got into the wrong hands during her tour. Avoiding earlier proposals of marriage from other suitors, Nora married her long-time fiancé Ferdinand in 1921. She died unexpectedly in March 1923 after giving birth to a stillborn second child. Gina remained close to her father until his own death in 1977.

Gina was educated in Vienna at the Gymnasium Sacré Coeur, a private Catholic school. She later attended a school run by the Congregation of Jesus sisters in Rome. Gina first studied art history and applied arts, then worked as a fashion illustrator for a time before continuing her education at the University of Vienna. She studied languages (French, Italian and English) at the university, eventually earning her diploma as an interpreter.

Gina is believed to have first met Franz Josef, her third cousin, in early 1942. The two shared a deep love of art, and began seeing more of one another after their initial meeting.  Despite a fifteen year age difference, the couple's friendship eventually turned to love. Gina once shared a touching story that during their courtship, Franz Josef gave her a box of Swiss chocolates instead of jewelry, as the chocolates were far more difficult to obtain at the time.
Gina and Franz Josef on their wedding day
The engagement between 21-year-old Gina and 36-year-old Franz Josef was announced in Vaduz on December 30, 1942. The couple married at noon on March 7, 1943, at the Cathedral of St. Florin in Vaduz. Swiss Bishop Christian Caminata conducted the religious service with assistance from the parish clergy. The ceremony was very simple, with no military presence, but with many well-wishers from the general public. The wedding was particularly special for the people of Liechtenstein, as it was the first such ceremony of a ruling prince to take place in the principality. In accordance with the principality's philatelic roots, three stamps were issued to commemorate the occasion. After the wedding, the couple took a few weeks to visit all of the eleven communes of Liechtenstein.

Franz Josef and Gina became parents to their first child, current reigning Prince Hans-Adam II, on February 14, 1945. Four other children followed: Philipp Erasmus (1946- ), Nikolaus (1947- ), Norberta (known as Nora) (1950- ) and Franz Josef Wenzeslaus (known as Wenzel) (1962-1991).

Gina, Franz Josef, and their four oldest children
Complimenting her husband's shyer and more reserved manner, Gina was known as being very energetic and outgoing, qualities which served her well as the first lady of Liechtenstein. Franz Josef's desires to make both the state and the princely family more accessible to the public were assisted by Gina's openness and practical nature. During a gasoline shortage in Liechtenstein in World War II, it came as no surprise to the public to see their undaunted Princess travel to Vaduz by bicycle to do her shopping.

Although Gina did not grow up with her mother, Nora's legacy was to leave a lasting impact on her daughter. During the last days of World War II, Liechtenstein, a neutral country throughout the war, was experiencing a massive number of refugees entering the Principality at Schaanwald. Following the lead of her late mother, Gina took the initiative to establish the Liechtenstein Red Cross organization as a means of providing clothing, food, shelter, and other basic needs to those displaced by war. The organization was officially founded on April 30, 1945.

In succeeding decades the Liechtenstein Red Cross continued to help refugees entering Liechtenstein. The organization assisted those fleeing Hungary following the 1956 revolution, as well as Czechoslovakian citizens who arrived after the 1968 Soviet invasion and even a group from Vietnam who took refuge in the country in 1979.  

Gina remained president of the Liechtenstein Red Cross from the time of its inception until 1985, when she handed over the leadership position to her daughter-in-law Marie. A stamp was issued the same year by the Liechtenstein government depicting Gina at the Austrian-Liechtenstein border welcoming refugees into the country. Two years after her retirement, the International Red Cross awarded Gina with the Henri Dunant Medal, the highest award given by the organization to those who served with distinguished service. With a membership of over 1,200, the Liechtenstein Red Cross is the largest organization of any kind in the principality.

Gina's concern for the less fortunate in Liechtenstein extended beyond the creation of the country's Red Cross.  In Liechtenstein, she also assisted in the foundation of the Gamander children's home and educational institution for mentally challenged children. Gina also served for a time as the President of the Society for Orthopedic Aid, and helped organize a home care system for Liechtenstein's elderly residents. In her later years, Gina organized delivery of food aid during the famine in Ethiopia.  

Gina and Franz Josef in their later years
In 1976, Gina's father Ferdinand permitted the publication of his late wife's diaries written during her time in Siberia. Gina herself contributed the foreword to the publication titled Russisches Tagebuch: 1916-1918 (Russian Diaries). Thirty years later, a documentary based on the diaries was made chronicling Nora's experiences during World War I.

Gina made her last known public appearance at the July 29, 1989, wedding of Prince Gundakar of Liechtenstein (a distant cousin to Franz Josef) to Princess Marie of Orleans, a daughter of Henri, Count of Paris. She died less than a week before her 68th birthday on October 18, 1989, in Grabs, Switzerland, after suffering from what was believed to be cancer. Franz Josef, himself in poor health, collapsed at his wife’s deathbed.

Princess Gina had once described her relationship with her husband as the following, "My husband and I have become one; both of us believes that we can't be without the other."  Gina was to be sadly correct in this statement, as her death preceded that of Franz Josef by less than a month. Gina and Franz Josef are buried together in the Cathedral of St. Florin in Vaduz.  Former International Red Cross President Alexandre Hay attended Gina's funeral.

A trail in Liechtenstein commemorates Gina's life and love of her adopted homeland. The Princess Gina Trail is a 12 km long loop trail through the picturesque Valüna Valley and offers views of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Austria.  A plaque can be found along the trail honoring Gina's charitable contributions to Liechtenstein and the world.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (6): Amethyst Tiara vs. Ena's Aquamarine Tiara

Another close race it was, another win for the lesser known and lesser seen of two tiaras, the Floral Bandeau Tiara. Up against each other today are one lesser and one very well known piece though: The Amethyst Tiara (No. 17 in our list of the grand ducal tiaras) vs. Queen Victoria Eugenia's (Ena's) Aquamarine Tiara. (Note that the amethyst tiara is not the one worn by Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Princess Tessy as of late, we'll feature that one later.)
So, which one gets your vote? The mysterious second amethyst tiara of the Grand Ducal Family or the diadem of a Spanish Queen that might just end up in the possession of her great-granddaughter one day? For me, this isn't really a choice I have to think about - what about you?

(Remember: Voting closes on Saturday night Luxembourgish time.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Countess Diane at Exhibit Opening

Photo: Violaine le Hardÿ de Beaulieu,
O. de Croÿ
Countess Diane, wife of Prince Jean, recently was at the Château de Rœulx where she attended the opening of the exhibition "Clouds" organised by the Fondation Croÿ-Rœulx. Le Rœulx is situated close to Mons, the European Capital of Culture 2015. The exhibition of more than 50 works of art ranging from sculptures to paintings at the home of Prince and Princess Olivier de Croÿ-Rœulx will run until October 18. Also among the guests were Prince Laurent of Belgium as well as Countess Nathalie d'Ursel, pictured together with Countess Diane.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Schloss Liechtenstein

Yes, before you start wondering, there is yet another castle or palace with the name Liechtenstein. Schloss Liechtenstein is located directly behind Burg Liechtenstein - well, depending on which side you are standing, really - and is one of the gazillion castles and palaces once owned by the Princely Family in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Fun fact: Approximately about 15 or 20 are still owned by the family or one of their foundations. Schloss Liechtenstein though is not one of them.
Photo: Luxarazzi
In 1596, Georg Wiesing, who you probably don't recall as the administrator of Count Hans of Khevenhüller-Frankenstein from the post about Burg Liechtenstein, had a Meierhof, a farm or building occupied by the administrator (the Meier) of a noble or ecclesiastical estate, built in place of today's Schloss. At that time, the ancestral home of the Liechtenstein family in Maria Enzersdorf wasn't owned by them. Instead the owner was Hans of Khevenhüller-Frankenstein, who had been given the area as a fiefdom by Emperor Rudolph in 1592.

Photo: Luxarazzi
Just like the old castle next to it, Schloss Liechtenstein was destroyed during the Battle of Vienna in 1683. And also just like the Burg, the Schloss's ownership changed a number of times during the following decades: There were the noble Waffenberg family, Baron Josef of Penkler and then Prince Stanislaus of Poniantovsky, who called Schloss Liechtenstein their own. After hundreds of years, it was Prince Johann I of Liechtenstein who bought Burg Liechtenstein and the surrounding estates back for his family.

In 1820, Prince Johann commissioned architect Josef Engel, a student of Joseph Kornhäusel, to build a Biedermeier-style summer residence for the Princely Family just opposite of their ancestral home. Previously, a Baroque castle with a small tower had stood in its place, at least according to a 1795 painting by Johann Christian Brand. Inspiration for the summer residence was taken from Schloss Weilburg in Baden near Vienna, which Archduke Karl of Austria had gifted his wife, née Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg. (Yes, the royal world is small sometimes.)

Today's Schloss is a rather simple, three-storey building. The side facing the Burg features a nine-axis classicist central section and high round-arched windows and doors on the main floor. The gable of the central pillared loggia is adorned by the coat of arms of the Princely Family, who regularly spent time at Schloss Liechtenstein prior to the Second World War, who sadly brought about its demise.

In 1945, the Schloss suffered heavy war damage and was later used by the Red Army before it became a reception centre for Hungarian refugees in 1956. By the 1960's, it was in such a desolate condition and uninhabitable that a total demolition was considered in 1964, despite it being under monumental protection since 1939. The largely-ruined Schloss Liechtenstein, parts of which had actually been demolished, was later sold by the Princely Family and turned into a retirement home. After long restoration and some more demolition works, only the central part of the original 19th century summer residence still remains.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Palais Grand-Ducal Welcomes Student Visitors

© 2015 Cour grand-ducale/Marc Schmit/tous droits réservés
This past week, from July 6th to July 10th, the Palais Grand-Ducal was opened up to Cycle 4 students from Luxembourg's education system. This is the fifth year students have been welcomed to the palace, as part of a joint program between the Cour and the Luxembourg City Tourist Office (LCTO).

Staff members of the Cour greeted students and assisted in providing them with a tour that gave students a glimpse of the active workings of monarchy, both current and historical, within Luxembourg. Nearly 370 students from 18 different schools toured the Palais Grand-Ducal during the week. They also got an early look at the exhibition "Wëlcom dôhém ! Retour d’exil de S.A.R. la Grande-Duchesse Charlotte", which will be open to visitors from July 13th to September 6th of this year.

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (5): Sapphire Necklace Tiara vs. Floral Bandeau Tiara

Grand Duchess Maria Ana's Tiara it is, your winner of the last edition of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race.  It was a relatively close race, with the winner receiving 254 votes (or 53.47%) to the 221 votes (or 46.53%) that went to the Emerald Art Deco Tiara. I'm tempted to call this the first major upset of The Luxarazzi Tiara Race: A virtually unknown tiara beating such a household name, quite a surprise!

Heading off against each other today are two relatively unknown pieces. On the one hand we have a sapphire and diamond necklace turned tiara worn by Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte below; on the other hand a diamond bandeau tiara with a floral motif worn by Grand Duchess Charlotte for a number of portraits in her early years and not seen since. (A little more info about both of them in our post about the Grand Ducal Tiara Collection.)
So, you know the drill: Vote for the tiara that should advance into the next round below and don't forget to leave a comment which one you favour and why.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Luxembourg Ladies Attend Fashion Shows

Photo: Getty Images
Several of the lovely ladies of Luxembourg have made appearances at different fashion shows. Princess Claire and her mother Gabriela Lademacher were on the front row at the Elie Saab show.  Some more photos of Princess Claire (and her mother) at Elie Saab are available at Getty and at Newscom.

Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was reportedly at the Armani show with Princess Alexandra (no photos of them yet, though). Photos of Maria Teresa and Alexandra from Getty.

Photo: Getty Images

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Guillaume and Stéphanie Celebrate Jonk Entrepreneuren

Photo: Pierre Matgé / Luxemburger Wort /
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie were out and about this evening celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Jonk Entrepreneuren Luxembourg. Jonk Entrepreneuren, a patronage of the Hereditary Grand Duke, is an association aiming to promote creativity among young people and to introduce them to the professional world. Loads of more information about their work at Wort.

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (4): Grand Duchess Maria Ana's Tiara vs. Emerald Art Deco Tiara

It started out as a close race but in the end, the Sapphire Bracelet Tiara took home the win with 310 votes or 59.16 percent against the Butterfly Tiara in the last edition of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race. Today, we again have two tiaras heading of against each other: Grand Duchess Maria Ana's Tiara, presumably a diamond piece apparently only worn once (publicly) for the wedding of her second daughter, vs. the Emerald Art Deco Tiara by Chaumet.
So, which one gets your vote: A virtually unknown tiara or a piece (un)affectionately known as 'the wonderwoman tiara'? Chose your favourite in the poll below and also drop us a comment which tiara won your affection and why.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Award for Princely Wine

Photo: ZVG / Volksblatt
Sometimes I feel that I'm becoming a little wine expert - well, very little wine expert - by writing this blog alone: This time, it's about the princely wines again. Each year, Austria's best wines are judged in a blind tasting at the SALON Österreich wine competition. Afterwards, the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, or Österreich Wein Marketing (ÖWM), announces the best wines of each category. Among the winners this year was the "Amato" of the Fürstliche Hofkellerei wine cellars. On hand to receive the award was Princess Marie, wife of Prince Constantin.

Prince Max Meets Deputy Prime Minister

Photo: IKR / Volksblatt
On Thursday last week, Liechtenstein's Deputy Prime Minister Thomas Zwiefelhofer met with the heads of the LGT, the Princely Family's wealth and asset management group, including Prince Max. They discussed current financial affairs and posed in front on a painting of the prince's grandfather, Prince Franz Josef II.

Palais Grand-Ducal Opens Its Doors

Same procedure as every year (and yes, I understand that not everyone understands that reference): Once again, the palais grand-ducal opens its doors to the general public this summer. Between July 13 and September 6, guided tours in Luxembourgish, French, German, English and Dutch will be offered. Admission per adult is 10 euros and 5 euros per child. Tickets for the palace tour are available at the Luxembourg City Tourist Office. The temporary exhibition Wëlcom Dôhém - Return From Exile of HRH The Grand Duchess Charlotte will also be available for viewing in the Salle de Balance.

More information at the cour and the LCTO. Read our report about the open palace in 2013 here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Lunch With Prince Félix and Prince Robert

A Utah concert violinist recently had the chance to have lunch with not just one but two Nassau princes. David Park, who wrote all about his royal lunch experience here, was a guest at the Château Haut Brion, the prestigious French wine estate owned by Prince Robert, cousin of the Grand Duke, who was also the host of the event. Also in attendance for the luncheon was the "hip and stately" Prince Félix, who did not have his royal title written down on the table name card.

Tell-All Book About the Grand Ducal Family

L'essentiel reports that there is a tell-all book about the Grand Ducal Family in the works. The writer allegedly is a former member of staff of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, for whom she worked for 14 years and whose orders she describes as "often contradictory". But before any book is published, there will be a labour court hearing in October about the termination of contract of the former staff member in question. Délicat, as L'essentiel puts it. Someone gabbing about their former employer - no matter who they were - after they were fired is always a bit tacky, non?! (And one should keep in mind that all employees of the cour have to sign a confidentially contract so it remains to be seen if the author will actually go ahead and publish the book.)

Members of the Council of Europe Received

Grand Duke Henri together with the Grand Duchess, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie received members of the Europen Council on Friday. They Council members were in Luxembourg to mark the start of Luxembourg's presidency of the Council of the European Union.

No photos have been released. We will update the post if any are published. 

10 Years of Entertainment

On Friday, the Grand Duke attended the Gala Concert to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Orchestre Philharmonique Luxembourg. Since the opening on 26 June 2005 over 1,500,000 people have attended events at the Philharmonie. The Gala Concert to mark the anniversary featured a children's choir and the Orchestre Philharmonique Luxembourg.

Photos have yet to be published. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (3): Sapphire Bracelet Tiara vs. Butterfly Tiara

It was clear but maybe not as clear as I expected it to be: The Belgian Scroll Tiara won your affection in the last edition of The Luxarazzi Tiara Race beating Princess Margaretha's Sapphire and Diamond Tiara by a wide margin of 84.66 percent. Today, we again have a sapphire tiara competing with an all-diamond piece for your vote: the Sapphire Bracelet Tiara vs. the Diamond Butterfly Tiara, the newest second newest addition to the Grand Ducal Collection (though Princess Claire's rubies are too new to be featured in this race, sadly or luckily - not sure which - we do not have clairvoyent abilities).
This one I dare not predict - so tell us, which one of the two tiaras wins your vote? Don't forget to also drop us a comment below whether you favour the bracelet turned tiara or a rather modern adaptation of a tiara. (Voting closes up Tuesday evening Lux time.)

That should be "Butterfly Tiara" of course...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Henri and Maria Teresa Attend an Opening Concert for the Luxembourg Presidency

Photo: SIP / Thierry Monasse / Cour grand-ducale
This evening in Brussels, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa were present at an opening concert to recognize the start of Luxembourg's tenure in the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The concert included a variety of cultural performances to celebrate the event, which will see Luxembourg in the role for the rest of 2015.

Also in attendance was the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Minister of Culture Maggy Nagel, among other dignitaries.

Photos from Tageblatt available here, and more photos from the Cour here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Grand Duke Meets Young Farmers

On Wednesday afternoon, Grand Duke Henri received a delegation of members of the European Council of Young Farmers, or Conseil Européen des Jeunes Agriculteurs (CEJA), for an audience at the palais grand-ducal. A CEJA conference takes place in Luxembourg this week.

Grand Duke Henri Receives the Prime Minister of Norway

Photo: Cour grand-ducale
Today at the Palais grand-ducal, Grand Duke Henri received in audience Her Excellency Madame Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway. Madame Solberg is currently on a working visit to the Grand Duchy, with respect to the Luxemboug Presidency of the Council of the European Union. (Norway is not a member of the European Union but maintains strong diplomatic ties with that institution.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (2): Margaretha's Sapphire Tiara vs. the Belgian Scroll Tiara

Congratulations to Princess Sibilla's Diamond Art Deco Tiara, the first winner of The Luxarazzi Tiara Race. (Don't know what it is? Check out the details here!) Today is the second match day of our little tiara tournament. Facing off against each other are Princess Margaretha's Sapphire and Diamond Tiara, which can also be worn as a necklace, vs. the Belgian Scroll Tiara.
Not the most difficult of predictions as to which tiara will advance to the next round - or are we in for the first major upset of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race? Cast your vote below, which one of these two sparklers should advance into the next round where it will face off against Princess Sibilla's tiara. (And yes, that's going to be a tough one!) Also drop us a comment below to let us know which one of the tiaras got your vote and why. (Voting closes on Saturday night.)

P.S. Have you made your prediction yet as to which sparkler will be the grand winner of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race? Akram of The Royal Couturier also gave us his picks:

I think The Luxembourg Empire Tiara will be the winner. I mean, it's huge and grand but still very beautiful and has a somehow delicate appeal to it. Also it's not seen very often, but that definitely keeps it in our minds. My personal favorite would be either Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara -which is classic, substantial and can be versatile if Princess Sibilla decides one day to replace the aquamarines with other stones- and the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara which looks great on every one that has worn it. I believe our dark horse would be the Belgian Scroll, I think everyone is relieved that this piece was never sold out of the Luxembourger vaults.