Sunday, October 30, 2016

Luxarazzi 101: Weill

As it has been a pretty slow week news-wise, let's delve deeper into the grand ducal wardrobe with French fashion house Weill, shall we? We shall. While rather unbeknowst in the royal fashion world, Weill actually is the oldest French fashion house still in operation. It was founded by Albert Weill in 1892 after arriving to Paris from his native Alsace. Since 1924, the brand has called a house in 8 Livingstone Street, at the foot of Montmartre, their home. Nicknamed La Manufacture, it was built by Paul Dupré-Lafon at the behest of Robert Weill, son of the aforementioned Albert.

It was Robert's son, Jean-Claude, who introduced the concept of "Ready to Wear", le prêt-à-porter, to French fashion when he returned to Paris from the United States of America in 1950. From then on, Weill has manufactured their clothes in series. Thirty years later, the company opened their first boutique on the Champs-Élysées. Since 2000, the fashion house, who manufacture their clothes in Laon, is managed by their fourth generation of members of the Weill family. They also remain the sole owners.

These days, Weill sells their clothes in about 40 boutiques and many more franchises in France and abroad. And those shopping at their boutiques include members of the Grand Ducal Family: Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has worn their designs on at least four occasions, while Grand Duchess Maria Teresa did so at least once. Apart from the one in the middle worn by Stéphanie, I'm not the biggest fan - are you?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Luxarazzi 101: Fournisseurs de la Cour

Confiserie Namur (Photo: Good Idea)
The Austro-Hungarian Empire may be gone for almost 100 years but walking through the streets of Vienna, you can still spot a great number of k.u.k. Hoflieferanten - imperial and royal purveyors to the court. Even though their Luxembourgish counterparts may not be as famous as Köchert, Demel and Co., there still are 42 companies from all over the Grand Duchy who carry the official title of fournisseurs de la cour.  

A necklace by Schroeder Joalliers
From vineyards to hairdressers, from pharmacies to heating contractors, from breweries to beauty salons, from telecommunication companies to leather good specialists - there's someone for practically everything on the list. Some of the fournisseurs have carried their title since decades, others were additions in recent years.

Schroeder Joalliers, for example, was granted the title in 1920 by Grand Duchess Charlotte and has supplied or amended the jewellery of three grand duchesses of Luxembourg since. For example, they made a pearl and diamond necklace for Grand Duchess Charlotte. On the list of fournisseurs are not one but two cake shops: While the Pâtisserie Oberweis has had the title since 1904 and made the multi-tier wedding cake for the Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess, the Confiserie Namur served the Baamkuch, a tasty layered cake which is traditionally eaten at weddings and other special occassions in the Grand Duchy.

What they all have in common is that they have supplied the cour grand-ducale with goods or services for at least five years. That is the condition to apply to be officially recognised as a purveyor to the court. A commission then decides whether the company in question will indeed receive the position as fournisseur de la cour. On an interesting historical note: There was a law after World War II that allowed companies to be stripped off their title based on their activities during the Nazi occupation of Luxembourg.

Many decades before, it was King-Grand Duke Willem III who introduced the title of fournisseurs de la cour during the 19th century. While rules have gotten more relaxed since, they once included that a purveyor to the court may not be a divorcee. Generally it is difficult to say what all the rules embrace as it is quite a discreet club. To be allowed to display the coat of arms associated with the title, the companies have to pay an undisclosed sum of money to the cour grand-ducale that goes to the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse, the Grand Ducal Couple's charity.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Grand Duchess Supports Dr. Denis Mukwege

© Photo 2016 Cour grand-ducale / Charles Caratini / tous droits réservés
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa spent the day supporting Dr. Denis Mukwege. The Grand Ducal Couple received Dr. Mukwege and his wife for an audience at the Palais early in the afternoon. Later the Grand Duchess attended a conference debate on the subject "Dr. Denis Mukwege a Defender of the Life of Congolese Women - the Course of an Exceptional Man". Following the debate, the Grand Duchess assisted with a lecture given by Dr. Mukwege that included a presentation of his book A Plea for Life.

Dr. Mukwege is a remarkable man who deserves the honor and support of figures such as Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. He has dedicated his life to defending, supporting and assisting female survivors of rape. He spends 18 hours a day doing operations to repair the horrific physical damage caused by gang-rape. These horrific acts of violence include vicious rapes and purposeful mutilation of the sexual organs.

© Photo 2016 Cour grand-ducale / Charles Caratini / tous droits réservés
Each month the Panzi Hospital founded by Dr. Mukwege admits more than 400 patients and he is one of only a few doctors qualified to preform the delicate and complex surgeries required to repair vaginal tears and vaginal fistulas that result from these violent assaults. His hospital has provided over 4,000 free surgeries just to treat fistula. These circumstances have led to Dr. Mukwege becoming the world's leading expert on repairing the internal trauma caused by gang-rape and vicious sexual assaults.

Unfortunately, sexual violence against the population of the Congo is a daily occurrence. The Congo has been locked in decades of violent conflict. Since 1996 one war after another has raged across the region. Women, children and even men are viciously and repeatedly sexually assaulted as part of the "usual" war strategies in the region. This rampant sexual violence has become an increasingly common part of civilian life, as well. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is referred to as "the worst place in the world to be a woman".

Dr. Mukwege is a brave man whose dedication to helping repair the physical and psychological trauma of sexual assault and his boldness in speaking out against the practice has earned him many honors. Sadly, he has also been the victim of a violent assassination attempt resulting in the murder of one of his guards and his daughters being held hostage. Despite this, Dr. Mukwege continues to help survivors and to campaign against sexual violence.

Dr. Mukwege has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize THREE times and has received dozens of other awards and honors.

Because the conflicts in the region receive pitifully little attention outside of Africa the Panzi Hospital suffers from chronic lack of funds. You can donate to help Dr. Mukwege and his staff continue providing medical and psychological assistance to these vulnerable victims. Alternately, the Fistual Foundation supports facilities that aid survivors throughout Africa and Asia, including the Panzi Hospital.

RTL has additional photos and a video of the events. Additionally, the cour now has some photos. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hereditary Grand Duke Visits China

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume is currently on his approximately 20th trip to China since introducing Luxarazzi. And why should this financial mission be any different than 99 percent than the ones before, it seems!? Thus far, there aren't any visuals available though here are two fancy quotes from Luxembourg for Finance: "Ties between China and Luxembourg extend well beyond financial services", the Hereditary Grand Duke said, adding "Building bridges is indeed what Luxembourg is strongest at."

On a more serious note, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume is currently in China visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen together with a finance delegation also included Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna. Part of the finance mission was the signing of an agreement between the Confucius Institute Headquarters in China and Fudan University as well as the University of Luxembourg for the establishment of a Confucius Institute at the University of Luxembourg.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Luxembourg Travel Tips With Guillaume and Stéphanie

Photo: Place Royale
The beautiful scenery at Château de Vianden, the Edward Steichen photography exhibition at  Château de Clerveaux, wine tasting on the Moselle River and the creative hub in Differdange - Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie showed Belgian TV in the form of Thomas de Bergeyck from Place Royale some of their favourite spots in the Grand Duchy. The full report can be seen here.

Alois Celebrates ThyssenKrupp Presta Anniversary

On the 21st, Hereditary Prince Alois attended a 75th anniversary event for ThyssenKrupp Presta in Eschen. The CEO of ThyssenKrupp, Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger, was also there, along with ThyssenKrupp Presta CEO Guido Durer. Dr. Hiesinger commented positively on the successes of the Liechtenstein branch of the company and noted how today it is one of the world's leading automotive suppliers.

A little more about the company and the event here. No photos of Alois at the event just yet.

Grand Duchess Celebrates Anniversary of Catholic Charity

Last night, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was at the Château de Bettembourg where she attended the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Action catholique des Femmes du Luxembourg (ACFL). The women's association is a religious movement in the Archdiocese of Luxembourg, where women come together to deepen their Christian faith and to do their testimony. Charity is one of their priorities, for example by providing assistance and support to people in need. The Grand Duchess has been the patron of the association since 2007, former patrons include Grand Duchess Charlotte and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.

Guillaume and Stéphanie Visit Digital Agency

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie paid a low-key visit to the digital agency Explose at some point last week. Explose calls 1535 Creative Hub in Differdange their home. The former factory building by steel producer ArcelorMittal turned workspace for some 200 young creatives from the fields of art, technology and more was opened by the Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess in October of last year.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Grand Ducal Couple Receive Paralympic Athletes

Court Grand-Ducale / Claude Piscitelli / All Rights Reserved
Yesterday, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa hosted a reception at Chateau de Berg for Luxembourg's delegation to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The delegation included Luxembourg's three paralympic competitors

Joel Wagener placed 11th in the MH4 category 60km hand-bike race while Luciano Fratini placed 12th in the MH3 category 60km hand-bike race. Luxembourgish record holder Tom Habscheid placed 7th in the F42 category shot-put. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Luxarazzi Experience: Remembering That Wedding Four Years Ago

Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Vic Fischbach
Oh my, how times flies...! Loads of you suggested that we revisit old events beneath that other post and I did ask for a new major event so why not have a look back at the biggest event in Luxarazzi history yet: The wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie four years ago yesterday and today. The wedding wasn't just our biggest event because it was the wedding of the heir to the throne but also because October 20, 2012 is still the busiest day we ever had on the blog - and it did make a lasting change to Luxarazzi. (Did you know that we introduced the Luxarazzi 101 series around that time to have a look back at other weddings and to introduce to you the wedding venues?)

Photo: Cour grand-ducale/Vic Fischbach
Over the last few days I have heard a number of stories how many of you became interested in the Grand Ducal Family through the wedding. As someone who has followed them a few years more, I can only say that that day in October four years ago considerably raised the international profile of the Grand Ducal Family - as well as ours. Through the wedding the number of people visiting our blog monthly has quadrupled with even more joining us for big events like other family gatherings or national days. 

In the days before the wedding, not only did Luxarazzi have far less readers, the Grand Ducal Family wasn't as internationally known. Outside of Luxembourgish media there was hardly anything to be found. Of course, they still aren't as famous as other royal families of Europe but that is also what attracts many people to keeping up with them, us included. These days, it's not like finding a unicorn when you see an article about them by the international and especially English-speaking media. The wedding actually also was the first time we were contacted by media to give our insight. I can tell you, it's a pretty surreal experience when BBC Radio asks whether you could do an interview with them. There was also some Luxembourgish and German media - it was pretty cool!

But how did we experience those two days four years ago? They were busy, really busy - maybe even stressful! I don't think we ever kept up with the number of posts we published during those two days and the days leading up to the wedding and sharing other bits and bobs afterwards. We tried to cover everything - from the details of that glorious Elie Saab dress, to the flowers and rings and make-up and music. Oh, and the tiara. And the cousins! The pre-wedding events, the wedding events, the post-wedding events, everything. Even the dinner menue. Frankly, we were really surprised how many details the famously secretive cour shared during those days. It probably wasn't just our biggest event, it was also their's.

Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Guy Wolff
I think it's quite needless to say due to all my gushing but to this day, the big wedding is still my favourite event in my time being a follower of the Grand Ducal Family. I enjoyed the low-keyness of the civil wedding. The fact that they walked from the palais the town hall, Guillaume and Stéphanie as well as other family members taking loads of time talking to all the people who lined the streets. It was the first real glimpse we got of the future Hereditary Grand Duchess. 

I also remember Nichole and me not being that much of a fan of Stéphanie during the religious wedding. She seemed very nervous and focused, not looking at her husband very much (or only when the camera wasn't on her). In retrospect, it's probably all too understandable considering everything that was going at the time with the loss of her mother. Not having one of the most important people in her life there, it was probably very hard to keep the composure. Luckily, it changed again once the couple left the church. You could even feel the joy of that day on our little screens.

Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Vic Fischbach
Of course, we also had loads of thoughts on the fashion of that day. We freaking loved the Elie Saab dress and shook our heads at some other creations that shall not be named. I also remember being pretty disappointed by the fact that this was probably the only time that we would see the extended family at a major gala event but that none of the cousins wore a tiara. They have more than enough for everyone and what's the point of having about 15 sparklers lying around in the vaults?! Speaking of the cousins, it's too bad most of them were pretty much so unknown even to the Luxembourgish media that there were hardly any pictures of them. Luckily for us, the wedding also raised their profile. One thing that did make up for lack of tiaras on their part was Princess Sibilla showing up in Queen Ena's Aquamarine Parure - what a way to end rumours of her family selling it!

The wedding of the Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess was also the first time we came up with an exhaustive but not exhausting list of people who attended a major event. Four years on, it has become quite a regular thing for us after major events. But back then was the first time we waded through literally thousands of pictures of random strangers just to find a few familiar faces of the extended family, relatives and friends.

Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Guy Wolff
Funnily though, I seem to remember more bits and bobs of the wedding mass than the big thing. Princess Julie taking pictures with her phone. Those beautiful overhead shots of the fabulous train at the Cathédrale, the delightment they chose "Großer Gott wir loben dich" as the opening of the service - it may be the most popular of all German church songs but still also one of my personal favourites. The fact that Stéphanie wore the same diamond earrings her mother-in-law was apparently gifted by her own parents upon her wedding. One of the most touching moments was the minute or so the Count de Lannoy took to give his youngest daughter away. He was too frail to walk her down the aisle but they still took all the time they needed right in front of the altar for him to do so. Another thoughtful touch was that one of the intercession was read in Portuguese, the language of Luxembourg's largest immigrant group. Or that moment when Stéphanie apparently didn't know whether to sign with her maiden or her married name - and her new husband had no idea either (but thankfully the priest could help out)...

As you can imagine, I could go on and on. Like I said, it was my favourite event in seven years of Luxarazzi. Probably also due to the fact that we got to witness so much of it live and in high quality, something that is rare in grand ducal watching. Trust the woman who has stared at grainy, static livestreams of an empty cathedral for hours on end to catch a glimpse of the Grand Ducal Family at the closing of the Octave.

P.S. Also ead first hand accounts on being in Luxembourg for the wedding by Arjan we published two years ago here and here.

Grand Duke Henri Receives Vice Premier of China

Photo: Charles Caratini / Cour grand-ducale
On the 19th, Grand Duke Henri received in audience Ma Kai, the fourth-ranked Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China. Ma Kai plays an important role in the National Development and Reform Commission, which is responsible for important changes in China's economy. Additionally, the Vice Premier oversees other elements of banking and industry. He is currently in Luxembourg on a working visit.

Cour website link here.

Alois Meets ODIHR Director Michael Georg Link

Photo: Information and Communications of the Government, Vaduz
Yesterday, Hereditary Prince Alois was at it again receiving someone for an audience at Schloss Vaduz. The guest this time around was Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw (ODIHR). The OSCE is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation.

Grand Duke Henri attends 100th Anniversary Session

Photo: Alain Rischard / Tageblatt /
Earlier today, Grand Duke Henri attended the official celebration for the 100th Anniversary of Free Trade Unions. During the event Andre Roeltgen, the president of OGBL, noted some of the positive and negative impacts of free trade locally in Luxembourg and on a larger scale in Europe. He noted that sometimes the unions are the driving force for social progress in Luxembourg while sometimes steamrolling over social models in other countries. He concluded his speech by reiterating the OGBL vision "peace, democracy and prosperity for everyone, here in Luxembourg and around the world."

Xavier Bettel made the statement that as a generation who has known no war, we must uphold the duty and legacy of our parents and grandparents for the sake of peace and solidarity.

Andre Roeltgen wrapped up by quoting German theologian Hans von Keler: "History is more than past events, history is created layer by layer - history is the foundation on which we stand and build."

More visuals at Tageblatt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thank You.

Villmols merci and vielen Dank! It's not even been 24 hours since I published a rather pessimistic and negative post on the state of Luxarazzi - and pretty much right away there were wonderful, thoughtful and insightful comments and emails arriving from you guys and gals. Thank you for each and every single one of them. It was really emotional reading through some of your emails. They made us smile, they made us (almost) shed a tear. I will take the time to reply to all of them, but as you probably noticed we were quite busy covering all the news and events the Luxembourgs and Liechtensteins threw at us today. Don't worry, we are here to stay for the foreseeable future - we just need a few changes to the routine and hopefully we'll figure those out soon!

A Third Boy for Marie-Christine and Rodolphe

Archduchess Marie-Christine, daughter of Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg and Archduke Carl-Christian and thus granddaughter of Grand Duke Jean, and her husband Count Rodolphe de Limburg-Stirum recently welcomed their third child into family. The little boy named Gabriel joins older brothers Léopold, born in 2011, and Constantin, born in 2013. Quite a gang of little rascals in the making, congratulations to the happy parents and big brothers!

Philipp and Isabelle at Royal Book Launch

Photo: Niviere / SIPA
Prince Philipp and Princess Isabelle were among a number of royals to attend the presentation of the book "Le Duc de Montpensier ou la descendance Espagnol du dernier Roi des Français". Written by author Ricardo Mateos Saint de Medrano, the book is about Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, youngest son of King Louis Philippe I and husband of Infanta Luisa Fernanda of Spain. The book launch took place yesterday at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris.

Prince Nikolaus in Monaco for Red Cross Meeting

Parlez-vous français? If yes, this video may be an interesting one for you. If not, you can still spy Prince Nikolaus attending a meeting of the Red Cross committees of the Small States of Europe in Monaco hosted by Prince Albert II. Prince Nikolaus in the international representative of the Liechtenstein branch of the aid organisation.

The State of Luxarazzi: In the Trough of the Sea

Luxarazzi turns seven this year. That's seven years of big weddings and small snippets of news about the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg and, by now, three and a half years of not as big weddings and smaller snippets of news about the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. And as it is the case with Middle-European weather, it's not 365 days of sunsine in Luxarazzi Land. Over the course of seven years you do not come home every night and look forward to cover yet another audience or visit to some obscure company. Truth be told, it feels more and more like a struggle.

Luxarazzi has become more as anyone of us ever expected over the last seven years. I don't think one of us even expected for Luxarazzi to last seven years. It has brought us joy, it was fun and we formed great friendships that go beyond this little space on the world wide web. But doing something for seven years, it becomes more and more difficult to still see it for what it is - a hobby - and not a second (or third) job. None of us have ever made any money from Luxarazzi. We use our free time to share our knowledge, news and events.

Back when Luxarazzi started, there was no place to go else to find English-language news and history on the Grand Ducal Family. Somehow royal watching was different back then, it was all about sharing that knowledge with others. Over the years, royal watching changed. Today, it's about whether you like a person or you don't. They either have to be the best thing since sliced bread or pure evil. There's hardly anything inbetween. If I voiced my opinions about the members of the Grand Ducal and Princely Families, you would probably wonder why I run this blog. But then I remember that I do not know them. None of us do. We base our opinions on snippets of their lives, often just pictures - and seriously, you can't judge a person by that. It's something that long bothered me and the reason why I hardly participate in discussions these days. 

My interest in royalty has always come in waves. There have always been times over the past seven years when I didn't keep up with anyone else than the Liechtensteins and Luxembourgs (and that I did just for the sake of this blog). There have also been times when I spent every waking minute on learning about another royal or noble family. To be honest though, I'm currently in the deepest and longest trough of the sea of motivation to continue Luxarazzi in the past seven years. This is not to mean that the blog will shut down tomorrow or next month, but I have started to seriously question the things we do. 

It's not the first time I thought about stopping but my thoughts have never revolved around the topic for so long. I can't say why that is exactly. Maybe it is a certain fatigue after seven years of basically writing about the same stuff over and over again. (I could really use a big wedding or something! Now where can I petition to make that happen?!) It just feels like same old, same old. Nothing new, nothing fresh. There may be 99 nice comments about what we do but it is that one comment that gets you down. Of course nobody has to like what we do but it's hard sometimes to deal with people's expectations and complaints. After all, this is just a hobby. 

A hobby that I couldn't have continued without the help of a great few. A very special thank you goes out to Bonnie for all the daily blogging you do and to Nikki for always cheering me on behind the scenes. And thank you to the millions of site visitors over the years. I understood long ago that we were never going to be the blog that has heaps of comments on their posts but the fact that you keep coming back must mean that you like us. 

And while this may have sounded like a farewell post, it actually isn't. I'm also fairly certain that it comes across as way too negative than actually intended. Like I said, I'm not going to quit Luxarazzi just yet. In fact, I thought about taking a hiatus but I'm actually afraid that I won't miss it as much as I expect and that taking a hiatus would mean goodbye - and I'm not ready to say goodbye. I know that there are hundreds and thousands of blogs that get abandoned all over the internet every day. Luxarazzi has been a part of my life for the past almost seven years (coming on board in 2010) - and it simply means too much to leave it behind.

So instead, I and us need new motivation and that's how YOU come into play. Please tell me and us: What do you like about Luxarazzi? What don't you like about Luxarazzi? What would you change about Luxarazzi if you could? What would you like us to add to Luxarazzi? What have you always wanted to say about Luxarazzi? There are like a gazillion ways to contact us: Either do so via Twitter, Facebook, E-Mail or simply leave us a comment below! It is much appreciated!

Hereditary Prince Alois: "There Are No Classes For Future Monarchs"

Photo: Sandra Ardizzone / Aargauer Zeitung
Hereditary Prince Alois has given a lengthy interview to Aargauer Zeitung, a Swiss newspaper, about the advantages of a monarchy, growing up as a prince and Liechtenstein's relations to Switzerland. In the interview the Hereditary Prince talks about how he differed from his classmates - "our homes looked different" -, how three generations of members of the Princely Family live under one roof at Schloss Vaduz - "you have to imagine it like an apartment house" - and more. He also tells, "There are no classes for future monarchs, at least I don't know of any." Too bad, can't you just imagine the University of Royal Sciences including classes like "Royal Waving 101" with Queen Elizabeth II, "Dressing the Part" with Crown Princess Mary, "The Art of the Laid-Back King" with King Willem-Alexander and "How to Smile When Your Consort Says Stupid and/or Offensive Things" co-chaired by Queen Elizabeth and Queen Margarethe?!

Grand Duchess Meets Cuban Politicians

Photo: Cour grand ducale / Charles Caratini
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa received a group of politicians and diplomats from her native Cuba at the palais today. (From right) Norma Goicochea Estenoz (Cuba's ambassador to the European Union), María Yolanda Ferrer Gómez (president of the commission for foreign affairs), Ana Maria Mari Machado (vice president of the national assembly) and Lázaro Barredo Medina (journalist, member of parliament and member of the commission for foreign affairs) are currently on a working visit to the Grand Duchy.

The Grand Duchess, of course, was born in Marianao, Havana, Cuba. Her family fled the country in October 1959, at the time of the revolution. She has returned twice since, most recently in 2012 with her husband and two youngest children. The cour denied earlier this year that there is a state visit coming up to Cuba next year.

Henri and Guillaume Support the Luxembourg Open

Photo: Roland Miny / Pressphoto /
On Tuesday, Grand Duke Henri and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume were in the audience of the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open to support Mandy Minella as she played German Andrea Petkovic. Minella won the first game, while Petkovic led in the second and third games and went on to the second round today.

More photos from RTL, and a little more about the (literal) back-and-forth during the game from L'essentiel.

Prince Max Supports LGT Cycling Challenge

Back on September 23rd, Prince Max joined the UK-based LGT Vestra team for the final day of their 6-day cycling challenge. They were riding from Buckingham Palace to Vaduz Castle, for a total of 725 miles, in support of the Prince's Trust.

The group used the hashtag #ridePrincetoPrince on Twitter, and readers can follow the journey at the link.

Grand Duke Henri Goes to Little Switzerland

Photo: Anouk Antony / Luxemburger Wort /
On the 18th, Grand Duke Henri was in the Mullerthal Region, also known as Little Switzerland, in the eastern part of the Grand Duchy. He was there by invitation to explore two of the area's most popular spots, the Perekop (a rock) and the Huel Lee (a cave), where the local experts discussed the archeology of the region, as well as its ecological importance.

A little more from Wort.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Luxarazzi 101: Princess Hilda of Nassau, Grand Duchess of Baden

We've already met one Hilda from the Nassau family, but what do you know about her aunt and namesake, the last Grand Duchess of Baden?  Today we'll learn more about Hilda of Nassau, the daughter of Grand Duke Adolph and sister of Grand Duke Wilhelm IV.

Hilda as a child
Hilda was born on November 5, 1864, at Schloss Biebrich in Wiesbaden, at that time the main residence of the Nassau family. She was the youngest child and only surviving daughter of Adolph, Duke of Nassau and his second wife, Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau. She spent her early childhood mostly at Schloss Hohenburg, where she grew up as a cheerful and optimistic child.  Hilda remained close to her mother throughout her life, both sharing a deep love of art.

Following the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 and subsequent exile of the Nassau family, Hilda resided in Vienna.  She spent much of her time with her mother, visiting museums and artists' studios. While in Vienna Hilda was presented to Austrian Empress Elisabeth, better known as Sissi, who took a shine to the girl, impressed by Hilda's skills at riding horses.  An accomplished horsewoman herself, Elisabeth would occasionally take young Hilda out on rides.

Queen Victoria considered Hilda as a bride for one of her younger sons, Arthur or Leopold. Although she was an appealing candidate due to her family connections, no marriage plans materialized.  However, an impressive suitor for Hilda did come into the picture around the time of her twentieth birthday.

Friedrich of Baden was the son of Friedrich I, Grand Duke of Baden.  Seven years Hilda's senior, Friedrich was also a grandson of German Emperor Wilhelm I through the latter's daughter, Louise. Friedrich studied law and history at the University of Heidelberg, then later in Bonn and Freiburg. His Prussian relatives had an enormous impact on his life, particularly through his devotion to the Prussian military. At the time he met Hilda, Friedrich had been serving in Potsdam as a soldier in the Prussian Army for five years.

By an unusual coincidence, Queen Victoria had also wanted Friedrich to marry into her family. He was Victoria's first choice of a groom for her granddaughter, Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, who later married into the Russian Imperial family.

Friedrich and Hilda around the time of their wedding
Hilda became engaged to Friedrich during the spring of 1885. Hilda's aunt, Queen Sophia of Sweden, played a large part in arranging the marriage; her daughter-in-law Victoria was also Friedrich's sister.  It is believed that the wealth of Hilda's family made the match even more appealing, as the grand duchy of Baden was not especially rich and an influx of cash from a dowry would go a long way in strengthening its finances. Hilda's dowry was indeed quite large, valued at several million florins. She also had an enormous trousseau comprised of dresses made mostly in Vienna.

Hilda and Friedrich married on September 20, 1885, at Schloss Hohenburg. The ceremony was a lavish one, with hundreds of banners, a long processional, a fireworks display, and scores of guests.  The marriage was seen in part as a sort of compensation for Adolph following the loss of the Duchy of Nassau in 1866.  A high-profile marriage of his daughter to an important German prince meant that Adolph was accepted again among greater German royalty. A great banquet was held after the wedding as a symbolic means of welcoming Adolph and his family back into the fold. Hilda and Friedrich honeymooned in one of Adolph's villas in Alt-Aussee, Austria.

The new couple's entrance into the city of Freiburg in 1886 was met with great fanfare. A tower known as the Hilda Tower (Hildaturm) was constructed to commemorate the occasion. The Hilda Tower was used during World War II as an observation tower for the threat of incoming enemy planes. The tower is still a well-known attraction in Freiburg.

The Hilda Tower
Friedrich's military duties left Hilda with considerable free time. While the couple had planned for children, they were never able to have a family of their own. Instead, Hilda often passed the time by visiting her brother Wilhelm and his family at Schloss Hohenburg, as well her parents during their stays at Königstein. Hilda was close to all six of her Luxembourg nieces, and as a result her visits became more frequent due to the long illness of her brother Wilhelm starting in 1898.  Hilda was also present at Schloss Hohenburg when her father died in November 1905.

Friedrich inherited the Grand Duchy of Baden upon the death of his own father in September 1907. He had resigned from his duties in the Prussian Army five years prior when his father began to show signs of ill health. The couple, however, still remained closely tied to the military of the German Empire due to their familial associations. Hilda christened the SMS Nassau, the Imperial Navy's first dreadnought battleship, in March 1908.

Hilda as Grand Duchess of Baden
The 1910s were difficult years for Hilda. She lost her brother Wilhelm in 1912 after complications from a brain hemorrhage years before. Two years later, World War I broke out and devastated much of Europe. Hilda devoted herself during the war years to managing the efforts of the Red Cross within Baden.

Hilda's beloved mother Adelheid-Marie died in 1916.  Finally, at the close of the war in November 1918, the German monarchies were overthrown. Karlsruhe broke out in riots, forcing Hilda, Friedrich, and his sister Victoria - then Queen of Sweden, who was visiting at the time - to flee the palace for their lives. Through Victoria's connections, the family eventually arrived at Schloss Langenstein, the home of Swedish Count Robert Douglas. On November 22, 1918, Friedrich abdicated the grand ducal throne of Baden, renouncing it for himself and his successors.

In 1920, the couple settled into Schloss Sickingen in Freiburg as their winter home, while spending summers in Badenweiler.  As Hilda and Frederick did not have children of their own, Friedrich informally adopted his distant cousin Bertold as his titular successor in Baden in 1927. Frederick was experiencing many health problems during this time, which he sought to treat at the area's numerous baths. Hilda was a devoted caregiver to her husband, who spent his final years nearly blind. Friedrich died in August 1928 after years of deteriorating health.

Hilda in her later years
Hilda faced a long widowhood. She continued to live on at Freiburg and Königstein, where her surviving Luxembourg nieces were frequent visitors.  She remained close to Bertold and was present at his wedding to Theodora of Greece (an older sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) in 1931.

Life during World War II was again quite difficult for Hilda. She was cut off from most of her beloved Luxembourg nieces, several of whom had been forced to flee Germany for North America or other parts of Europe.  Her youngest niece Sophie unexpectedly died in 1941 following a short illness. In November 1944, Schloss Sickingen was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid. Hilda lost nearly all of her possessions amid the destruction.

By 1951, Hilda realized that her time was coming to an end. Due to to war and its aftermath she had been unable to visit Königstein in twelve years. After declaring that she wished to see her beloved home one last time, she, accompanied by an entourage that included her namesake niece, returned to Königstein for a few weeks. Hilda was welcomed with open arms and a bouquet of flowers, with the occasion commemorated by speech from the mayor.

Hilda died in Badenweiler on February 8, 1952, just a few months after her 87th birthday.  She is buried in the family crypt in Karlsruhe beside her husband Friedrich. Several streets and schools in Karlsruhe are are still named in Hilda's honor.

Prince Robert Talks Bordeaux on CNBC

Prince Robert appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box to discuss the upcoming wine auction for Château La Mission Haut-Brion. The Prince expressed confidence about the wine's appeal to the international market during the auction, which is hosted by Sotheby's and will occur on October 19th. Additionally, Prince Robert commented on the fact that the winery now offers a more economical wine for around $20, when compared to the bottles traditionally produced there, some of which cost well over $1,000.

The video, which doesn't seem to have the option to embed, is here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hereditary Prince Alois Attends OLMA Parade in St. Gallen

Photo: Keystone /
On October 15th, Hereditary Prince Alois was in St. Gallen to attend the OLMA parade. The annual event is running this year from the 13th through the 23rd of October, and the Hereditary Prince was there to support the participants from Liechtenstein. He was also there with around 24,000 other visitors to watch the parade and explore the agricultural presentations at the fair.

A few more photos from SRF, along with the audio of an interview that Hereditary Prince Alois did with Regional Ostschweiz.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Grand Duke Remembers First Deportation of Jews

Photo: Chris Karaba / Luxemburger Wort /
This morning, a commemoration for the first deportation of Jewish people from Luxembourg took place in the Grand Duchy. On October 16, 1941, 323 people were brought from Luxembourg's central station to Ghetto Litzmannstadt in Łódź, Poland. Only twelve of them survived the horrors of the Nazi rule. It was the first of seven deportations of Luxembourgish Jews until June 1943. 

Among those participating in the commemoration was Grand Duke Henri. Together with President of the Jewish community Claude Marx, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and President of Parliament Mars di Bartolomeo as well as students he placed 323 suitcases at the main station to remember those deported 70 years ago today, whose names were read aloud. They also heard witness reports about the day and the Grand Duke met with the families of the victims.

More pictures at Wort and RTL.

Princess Nora attended fashion week

Back in September, Princess Nora of Liechtenstein and her daughter Doña María Teresa Sartorius attended Madrid's fashion week.

Princess Nora is the sister of Prince Hans Adam and the widow of Spanish nobleman Vicente Sartorius y de Cabeza de vaca, 4th Marquis de Mariño.

Guillaume and Stéphanie Open Fair

Photo: Steve Eastwood / Luxemburger Wort /
The Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess paid a visit to the "Home and Living Expo" at Luxexpo earlier today. The fair focuses on decorating, design as well as architecture, and features some 300 designers from the Greater Region, meaning Luxembourg plus the surrounding parts of Germany, France and Belgium. Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie were given an inaugural tour, tried out some gadgets, and also attended the official opening ceremony featuring a number of speeches.

More pictures can be found at Wort. RTL has a video.

Planting a Tree with Guillaume and Stéphanie

Photo: Chris Karaba / Luxemburger Wort /
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, accompanied by Ministers Claude Meisch and Carole Dieschbourg, attended a tree planting session by children aged eight to 14 by "Plant for the Planet", a children's initiative that aims to raise awareness amongst children and adults about the issues of climate change and global justice. The day also included courses for the children on causes and consequences of climate change and prevention.

The Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess set a good example by planting a tree themselves and apparently having fun doing so. Afterwards, they made their way to the Artikuss concert hall in Soleuvre where Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, who is the patron of the initiative in Luxembourg, handed out diplomas to the young climate ambassadors.

Way more pictures are available at Wort.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple Makes a Tasty Visit

Photo: Charles Caratini / Cour grand-ducale
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie literally made a sweet visit yesterday morning. The duo paid a visit to the Pâtisserie Oberweis, who have been a Fournisseur de la Cour since 1904. More recently, the purveyors to the court also made one of the wedding cakes for the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple's wedding four years ago.

More pictures at the cour.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Grand Ducal Family Visits Verdun

All photos: Olivier Polet
Verdun - the name of the French town stands as a synonym for World War I like few with one of its costliest battles taking place there between February and December 1916. 100 years on, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, accompanied by Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie as well as students from the Lycée Aline Mayrisch in Luxembourg city and the Nordstad-Lycée in Diekirch, to the small town in northeastern France today.

Together they honoured the German and French soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the Battle of Verdun with Grand Duke Henri relighting the eternal flame. They also visited the exhibitions "Que reste-t-il de la Grande-Guerre?" (What remains of the Great War?) and "Artisans de la Paix" - or Craftsmen of Peace in English - about Franco-German reconciliation after two world wars.


Even more photos are available at Tageblatt and RTL, who also have a video.