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.

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