Sunday, June 5, 2016

Luxarazzi 101: The Luxembourg and Liechtenstein Royals and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

There probably isn't any other school, university or academy that has seen as many royals pass through their doors as has the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Mind you, it's not only the Britons who send their princes (and princesses) to the military academy in Surrey. From Brunei to the United Arab Emirates, from Jordan to Saudi Arabia - Sandhurst is especially popular with the Arab monarchies (and some former ones even - hello Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Prince Leka of Albania, and Prince Heinrich of Schaumburg-Lippe!)

Guillaume graduates (Photo: Tom Wagner)
However, also pretty high up on the list of reigning families who have sent their offspring to the British military school are Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. (Yes, that Liechtenstein that doesn't even have an army.) Next in the long line will be Prince Sébastien this September when he will follow the footsteps of seemingly half his male relatives.

Let's start with that Liechtenstein that disbanded its own army in 1868 for financial reasons (after being possibly the world's first and only army who came home from a war with one man more than they left). The first Liechtenstein prince to enter the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was Prince Wenzel, the late younger brother of Prince Hans-Adam II.

Prince Wenzel entered the Military Academy in 1982 and a year later was a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards in London. He was followed by Hereditary Prince Alois. He finished school a year early in 1987 and decided to spend his gap year as part of the British armed forces. Upon being commissioned as a second lieutenant, he served with the Coldstream Guards in London and Hong Kong for six months. Prince Josef, son of Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha, rounds off the princely Sandhurst trio. He completed his training in December 2009 and then participated in the Trooping the Colour parade about half a year later as part of the Irish Guards, his Luxembourgish apapa's regiment.

Josef graduates (Photo: British Army)
Interesting note: As Liechtenstein doesn't hold an army, special agreements were signed between Queen Elizabeth II and the Fürst of Liechtenstein to make each of these stints possible.

While the Principality's Sandhurst history goes back a good thirty years, it's nothing compared to the Grand Ducal Family's association with the Military Academy. It was 1943 in the midst of World War II when Grand Duke Jean completed his education at Sandhurst after having obtained the rank of second lieutenant. His passing-out ceremony on July 28 was attended by his father and the exiled government. On the same day, the future Grand Duke addressed the people of Luxembourg via BBC Radio. 

Jean graduates (Photo: Rue des Archives)
Grand Duke Jean's footsteps were followed by two of his sons, Grand Duke Henri and Prince Jean, who left Sandhurst in 1975 and 1977 respectively. In addition, three of his grandsons (in addition to the already mentioned Prince Josef) completed the officer's training: Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume had his passing out in 2002, both Archduke Alexander and Prince Wenceslas did so in 2012. Like their cousin Josef, Alexander and Wenceslas served in the Irish Guards for a while afterwards. Another grandson of Grand Duke Jean who attended Sandhurst was Prince Félix though he left before finishing his course due to a knee injury.

Naturally all the Luxembourgish royals including Archduke Alexander entered the Academy on behalf of Luxembourg. And all of them were later also commissioned into the Luxembourgish army via grand ducal decree: "Par arrêté grand-ducal du 27 avril 2012 les Princes Wenceslas de Nassau  et Alexander de Habsbourg-Lorraine ont été nommés au grade de lieutenant de l’armée luxembourgeoise."

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