Friday, January 25, 2019

Weekly Roundup: Royals in Excavators, Anniversary Celebrations and More

January 19 to 25, 2019

Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
It's time for our new Weekly Roundup and in keeping with our promises last week, here are pictures of the Grand Duke visiting the judicial authorities of the District Court in Diekirch where he was welcomed by the Minister of Justice Felix Braz...
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
...and of the concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of the accession of Grand Duchess Charlotte to the throne at the Église Saint-Michel attended by the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess alongside Grand Duke Jean. More pictures at the cour.
Photo: IKR
While the Luxembourgs mostly kept to themselves for this week, there were a handful of events for the Liechtensteins. On Monday, Hereditary Prince Alois attended the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos alongside Prime Minister Adrian Hasler. Among others, the Hereditary Prince took part in a discussion about making globalisation work for all.
Photo: Eddy Risch / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Wednesday was a big day for the Principality kicking off their 300th anniversary celebrations. We conveniently covered the event for you in a separate and longer post. The event was attended by Prince Hans-Adam, Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie, Prince Max, Princess Tatjana, Prince Philipp, Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha, Princess Nora and daughter Teresa Sartorius, as well as Prince Michael, Princess Hildegard, Princess Barbara and Princess Maria-Pia - and because this is Liechtenstein we are talking about, there are no proper pictures of all the family members in attendance yet. After the official event was over, the Princely Family also hosted a dinner for the foreign guests at Schloss Vaduz.
Photo: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
A day later, on Thursday, Princess Tatjana made another of her rare public appearances in Liechtenstein when she was on hand for the ground-breaking ceremony for a new special education residential home. Princess Tatjana, who is the President of the Princess Gina of Liechtenstein Foundation which is building the facility, probably made her own children a teeny tiny bit jealous as she got to dig herself with the excavator. More information at Vaterland, 1 FL TV has a video including an interview with Princess Tatjana (starting at 4:53).
Photo: IKR
Speaking of rare appearances... The lesser seen members of the Princely Family made the most of their time in Liechtenstein as Prince Max attended a discussion round alongside Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick on modern slavery and human trafficking organised by the Liechtenstein Initiative.
Photo: Roland Korner / Close Up AG
Also this week, Vaterland published a lengthy interview with Hereditary Princess Sophie in which the talks about falling in love, moving to Liechtenstein, her children and a lot more. We have translated the interview for you here.
Photo: Sophie Margue / Cour grand-ducale
On Friday, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa presented her initiative Stand Speak Rise Up! to end sexual violence in fragile environments, launched together with the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation and the NGO We are not Weapons of War. The conference will take place on March 26 and 27, 2019, and will include three Nobel Peace Prize winners as keynote speakers. More pictures and information at the cour.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

"The Children Are Very Well": Hereditary Princess Sophie Talks Family, Past and Future

Photo: Roland Korner / Close Up AG
Hereditary Princess Sophie has given a rather rare interview to mark the beginning of Liechtenstein's tricentennial anniversary year. You can read the interview in German at Vaterland. As its always interesting to get an insight into royal life, we took the liberty in translating the interview. Please keep in mind that we are no pros when it comes to translations and some things may have been a bit more smooth in the original interview. This is an unofficial translation of the interview done by us.


Can you say what went through your mind when your first heard of Liechtenstein?
I can’t actually recall when I first heard of Liechtenstein so I couldn’t say what went through my mind.

And what went through your mind when you first visited?
My first visit was during a summer weekend in the early 90’s. My husband invited me together with several friends. I really enjoyed the visit, I thought that the country is beautiful. To this day I am amazed everyday by the wonderful view over the Rhine valley you have from the castle.

You first met your husband during the birthday party of a cousin in Munich. Was it love at first sight?
No, it wasn’t. (Laughs.) It took a while but after the sparks finally flew, everything went very quickly.

You became a Liechtenstein citizen upon your marriage. After a few years together in London with your husband, you moved to Liechtenstein. Was it tough for you to ultimately leave your native behind?
No, that wasn’t hard for me. My mother is from Sweden, my paternal grandmother was from Hungary. So it was a pretty natural step for me to leave your native behind after a wedding. Of course I’m happy to go back to Bavaria every once in a while and visit my family. Sometimes it would be nice if I could go more spontaneously for a quick visit. But it was never hard for me to leave Bavaria.

What did your friends and family say when you decided to marry Hereditary Prince Alois and for Liechtenstein to become your new home?
My family was very happy. They already knew my husband as he came to visit us often. My husband studied in Salzburg so my parents' house wasn’t very far away and also practically on his way back home.

Putting your hand on your heart: What is the biggest difference to your former life in Bavaria, where you grew up very sheltered with your four sisters and went to the local village school?
There actually isn’t that big of a difference. The differences to my childhood and youth are mainly due to a new phase in life. Life as a wife and mother presents different challenges to you than life as a child or teenager.

What do you appreciate most about the country and people?
A lot! I like the innovative energy and inventive spirit of Liechtensteiners, their diligence and awareness for quality. Things have rhyme and reason. I also appreciate the Liechtenstein humour, the straightforwardness and especially the easy-going informality. And, of course, the love for nature.

Can you tell us about your favourite place in Liechtenstein?
That’s really tough, there are so many beautiful spots in the country – and I keep discovering new places, where I love to spend time. That’s something very special about Liechtenstein, there are so many beautiful spots and places.

There are not too many traditional Liechtenstein dishes. But are Riebel (a corn-based traditional dish of the region) served now and again at the Schloss?
Yes, but it has been a while. Actually, we really need to have Riebel again soon.

How good is your Liechtenstein dialect? Do you sometimes speak it?
Sometimes something just comes out in dialect – but I’m pretty certain it sounds awful when I try to speak it. My children, who of course speak the dialect, have always forbidden me to speak it – and rightly so.

In difference to other monarchies and royal houses, the Princely Family lives a very private life and isn’t present in the international media. Do people recognise you when you go abroad?
No, not at all. I find that to be very pleasant, as you can move around freely. Imagine you go filling up your car on the motorway and then people recognise and speak to you at the cash-out. I would be quite embarrassed.

In Liechtenstein you also move around freely and mix with the people. We can meet you shopping in Vaduz, for example. How do Liechtensteiners react when they meet you?
There is no big reaction by Liechtensteiners. It’s normal for them that we also have to do our shopping. That’s exactly what I appreciate about Liechtensteiners. You nod, say hello and if you know someone you talk a bit. That’s all very uncomplicated, just how neighbours are. Sometimes there are some foreigners who actually react when they see you as they didn’t expect to meet you. But luckily they mostly don’t recognise us so you can go about your daily life and run your errands like everybody else. One time – and it really was the only time it happened to me – there was a small group of American teenagers who bought a few postcards in Vaduz. One of the girls recognised me as I walked by. She ran after me with the postcard in her hands and asked, „Is that you?“ – we did have a good laugh about it together.

Your four children are all grown-ups now. How do they do and what experiences did they have with the last name „Liechtenstein“?
Yes, they are all adults now and they are doing very well, thank you. It’s best if you ask them yourself what experiences they had with the last name. One experience we all regularly have is that our passports are inspected very thoroughly as both the name of the country and the last name are the same. The further away you get from Europe, the more often we are asked what kind of country that is we come from…

You are very socially active and have your own foundation. You are also the President of the Red Cross and patron of the animal welfare association. Do you think that the state of Liechtenstein equally does enough in the social sector?
In countries like Liechtenstein, the state maybe does a bit less than in countries with higher taxes. That way the people are more independent what to do with their means. But this independence brings along responsibility. Our system makes it possible and easy for active and engaged citizens to be free with their own means but also be supportive the more vulnerable. There is a lot less bureaucracy and so you can help quickly and solution-oriented. The responsibility lies with the people, the citizens don’t immediately call for the state to help. Maybe it’s even more social in the long-term instead of taking away the responsibility from the people. It seems important to me that people coming from abroad to live here need to be thoroughly informed about our approach.

Some people say that our high standard of living and prosperity is starting to annihilate core values such as charity, benevolence and loyalty. Do you see the same danger?
Of course there is a danger. Maybe it's due to the declining importance of religion, though this may also be connected to the increasing prosperity. However, I also think that especially here in Liechtenstein there are always a lot of open ears and hearts when people are in need. I’m very thankful and touched by the many donations to the Red Cross. We also have a lot of privately founded aid organisation in Liechtenstein that always impress me.

The UN migration pact is hotly debated right now. Our politicians are very skeptical as debates in the parliament have shown. What do you think about the topic?
I believe that it is a very diverse issue and I have to admit that I haven’t read the UN migration pact myself, so I cannot say too much about it. Both my father as well as my mother-in-law had to flee before, during or after World War II. Without the possibility to go to and stay in another country, neither my husband nor me would possibly exist. There needs to be help for people fleeing from war and crisis zones. Ideally, refugees should be relocated close to home with the goal to make it easy to return home one day. And, of course, it is important for a country to make sure that the intake is not uncontrolled.

Which personal goals would you like to reach in the coming years? Are there projects that are especially close to your heart?
There aren’t any new projects at the moment. My current projects give me great pleasure and occupy a good deal of my time. Personally I wish to have a bit more time for the family. Apart from our children, who are all adults now and study abroad, I also mean my family with that.

What will Liechtenstein look like in 50 years time?
That’s what I would like to now! I’m very curious, how technical developments, climate change, the population pyramid and demographic structure will change. How the limited resources will be managed, how our changing society will deal with the questions and challenges of the aging society, decreasing fertility rates and the sad development of genetically engineered children. At the same time our society longs to go back to the roots, acceptance and authenticity. At the same time we are very open to technical developments yet also fear how they will influence our lives. A lot of interesting questions that I don’t have the answer to.

Looking to the future of the country – what do you wish for?
Peace and safety for our country. Wisdom, foresight and humility of all policymakers. Serenity, confidence and, of course, God’s blessing for the people of Liechtenstein.


P.S. We have also updated our post of yesterday's anniversary celebrations with picture and video links - simply have a look here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

#Liechtenstein300: The Principality Kicks Off Birthday Celebrations

Photos: Screenshots Landeskanal
Today, the sixth smallest country in the world celebrated its 300th birthday. That country, of course, is Liechtenstein. (Brush up on your game show knowledge of all things Liechtenstein in our recent Luxarazzi 101.) In fact, today was just the first day of many celebrations to be held this year. The first day of the celebrations saw people from the Oberland, or upper county (the former county of Vaduz), and the Unterland, or lower county (once the lordship of Schellenberg), hike to the Scheidgraben, a ditch that used to mark the border between historical dominions, working together as teams and solving challenges along the way. The day-long journey also formed an integral part of the official celebrations this evening that officially kicked off the anniversary year. Naturally, an array of members of the Princely Family were also in attendance.
However, locating all the members of the Princely Family who were present for the evening celebrations was a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. Thus far we could positively identify Prince Hans-Adam II and at least three of his children, Hereditary Prince Alois with wife Hereditary Princess Sophie, Prince Max and Princess Tatjana as having been there. All of the Fürst's surviving siblings Prince Philipp, Prince Nikolaus and wife Princess Margaretha as well as Princess Nora with daughter Teresa Sartorius were also in attendance. From the wider family I could also definitely spy Prince Michael and Princess Hildegard as well as Princess Maria-Pia.
Tonight's ceremony included a speech by the Hereditary Prince as well as talks with Liechtenstein's Prime Minister Adrian Hasler and the President of Parliament Albert Frick. The event was interspersed with lots of lovely clips from today's hiking tours including a light show reenactment of the unification of Vaduz and Schellenberg into Liechtenstein 300 years ago today. During his speech, Hereditary Prince Alois thanked the present presidents of Austria, Switzerland and Germany for the good cooperation with and respect towards Liechtenstein for three centuries and especially the last decades. He also urged Liechtensteiners to work together for a prosper future of their country saying, "The future is full of challenges: If we want to keep up the high quality of living for ourselves and our descendants we cannot rest. We have to stay active and ensure the basis of our standard of living every single day. [...] Let us use the chances that this special anniversary year brings. Let us work together in the established and trusted ways between the people and the Princely House to lay a good foundation for the years to come."
Photo: Eddy Risch / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /

If you like, you can watch the full official ceremony over on Youtube. If you don't have as much time, Vaterland has videos of the Princely Family arriving including an interview with the Fürst and a rather funny video of Hans-Adam and Alois cutting the birthday cake. They also have a gallery of visuals.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Luxarazzi 101: A Short History of the Principality of Liechtenstein

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Hands up, who among you could place Liechtenstein on a map? Nestled away in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland, the Principality is the sixth smallest country in the world (behind Vatican City, Monaco, Nauru, Tuvalu and San Marino) and one of only two double landlocked countries (Uzbekistan being the other). So you may be forgiven for taking a second or five to locate it on a map - but now it is time to learn a bit more about this tiny nation. While we have previously written plenty about the history of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, such as here and here, we have yet to really cover the country's history apart from the odd tidbit here and there. With Liechtenstein's 300th anniversary celebrations kicking off this week, we thought it would be really interesting to bring you a bit of the country's history.

Here's the next fun fact for you (and probably not the last in today's post): Liechtenstein takes its name from a castle located about 500 kilometres beeline - that's about 310 miles - to its east. Say whaaat? Well, there's one intermediate step: Burg Liechtenstein in Maria Enzersdorf south of Vienna first gave its name to a noble family in the 12th century and a few centuries down the road that noble family gave their name to the country that became Liechtenstein - which just goes to show how intertwined the histories of the family and the country are. 

It was likely a cold winter day when on January 23, 1719, almost 300 years ago, Holy Roman Emperor Karl VI issued a decree saying that the county of Vaduz and the lordship of Schellenberg were to be united and elevated to the dignity of a principality with the name of "Liechtenstein" in honour of "[his] true servant, Anton Florian of Liechtenstein". The Liechtensteins had been long-time advisors to the Habsburg rulers but they lacked one thing: Reichsunmittelbarkeit meaning all their vast properties were held in fief under other more senior feudal lords and thus they did not qualify for a seat in the Imperial Diet. 

Photo: Castleholic
It was in 1699, that the chance for the Liechtenstein's to elevate their rank finally arose: That year, Prince Hans-Adam I bought the lordship of Schellenberg including a pre-emption for the county of Vaduz, which he purchased thirteen years later from the Count of Hohenems. Both areas were small and poor, inhabited by a few mountain farmers. Only recently, the country had been ravaged by the plague and excessive witch hunt by none other than its ruler at the time, Ferdinand Karl von Hohenems (1650–1686), who was actually deprived of his dominions by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1684 for his witch hunts. While the Emperor did give the lands to other members of the Hohenems family first, they were ultimately forced to sell the areas to pay off debts, first Schellenberg and later Vaduz. 

But why did the Liechtensteins want these backwaters so badly? The County of Vaduz carried one great advantage: While being created in 1342, after the subdivision of the County of Werdenberg, it had been declared reichsunmittelbar in 1396 meaning that it would grant the owner a seat in the Imperial Diet. The same day Liechtenstein was created in 1719, the country became a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire and the Liechtensteins thus Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. (Fun fact #4: This also makes the Principality of Liechtenstein the last relic of the Holy Roman Empire surviving to this day.) While the country's creation did elevate the family's status, they did not take a major interest into the country bearing their name for much of the next two centuries. After their experiences with their witch-hunting former ruler, this was probably something very much welcomed by the regular people of the country. 

Prince Johann and Emperor Napoleon
Stormy times, however, came to Liechtenstein (and Europe) about 100 years later. In 1806, there were plans to incorporate the Principality into Bavaria as part of the mediatisation, a process that saw the number of German states drop from almost 300 to just 39. Liechtenstein survived, was declared a sovereign state by Napoleon and joined the Confederation of the Rhine later that year. Fun fact: All of this was actually Napoleon's doing as he hoped to find a Vienna-based ally in Prince Johann I by his actions. But even though Liechtenstein's prince did not oppose Napoleon's decision, he neither signed the Act of Confederation nor ever formally quit the Holy Roman Empire. The Liechtensteins managed to retain their Principality's independence during the Congress of Vienna in 1815 due to their powerful position as important advisors to the Habsburg rulers. Later that same year, Liechtenstein joined the German Confederation.

Prince Johann I also was the first Fürst of Liechtenstein to be actively involved in the politics of the day, though he never visited the Principality. Despite being a profoundly absolutistic ruler, he did make some forward-thinking reforms. Already in 1805, he mandated a legislated compulsory education. He also introduced the land register as well as the freedom of establishment, abolished the serfdom, organised the medical corps and created Liechtenstein's parliament, the Landtag, by absolutist constitution in 1818, the country's first. However, the parliament was only convened to a meeting once a year by the sovereign prince and it did not possess any real rights as its sole function was to assent "with gratitude" to the annual demand for taxes. In order to carry through his ideas, Prince Johann I employed a Landvogt who was apparently largely detested by the population.

Fürst Alois II of Liechtenstein
1818 also saw the first visit by a member of the Princely Family to the Principality when Prince Alois spent some time in Liechtenstein. Though it took another 24 years for the first visit by a sovereign prince when Alois returned after he succeeded to the throne a couple of years earlier. While much of Europe was swept by the industrialisation during the course of the 19th century, economically and geographically isolated Liechtenstein remained a backwater. After a customs treaty with Austria-Hungary in 1852, some textile industry came to the country and somewhat improved the situation. In 1861, the first bank opened in Liechtenstein and a year later, in 1862, Prince Johann II gave Liechtenstein its second constitution creating a parliament representative of the people. While the Fürst continued to rule the country, he needed the consent of the parliament to introduce new laws. The same year, Liechtenstein's first newspaper was published.

The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 brought about the last time Liechtenstein entered into an armed conflict. This was controversial both within the country and with the Prince and so he placed his soldiers at the disposal of the Confederation but they could only fight against non-Germans speakers as the Prince considered the conflict to be a needless war of brothers. In the end, the Liechtenstein soldiers were deployed to defend the Liechtenstein/Austrian borders against the Italians. When the war ended, the soldiers returned home to Vaduz to a ceremonial welcome. Legend has it that while 80 men went away, 81 came back. Apparently an Austrian liaison officer joined up with the contingent because the Liechtensteiners were such nice people. Two years later, in 1868, Liechtenstein's army was disbanded. 

Having no army, the Principality managed to stay neutral during World War I. However, the strict sanctions towards Austria hit Liechtenstein hard because both countries were closely tied together: The monetary, postal and customs unions with Austria were dissolved leading to a collapse of the textile industry. The people were impoverished and a hunger crisis within the country ensued as there was no other industry to speak of. Liechtenstein realigned itself with its other neighbour, Switzerland, forming a customs and monetary union in 1923. Two years earlier, Prince Johann II had signed a new Liechtenstein constitution, the one remaining until today, into law.

The Rhine Floods of 1927
The inter-war years brought calm and some prosperity to the country. However in 1927, Liechtenstein was devastated by floods. On a Sunday in September, heavy warm rains in the Swiss Alps melted ice and snow, raising the level of Lake Constance by 15 feet and turning the Rhine River into a raging torrent. A dam on the border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein broke and essentially all of low level Liechtenstein filled up with water submerging all of the country's farmlands. The international media wrote: "Nearly the whole of Liechtenstein is reported as presenting the appearance of a huge bog, with only the bolder housetops and church spires protruding from the mud." The floods of 1927 saw the future Fürst Franz-Josef II visit Liechtenstein in his first official capacity. In an unprecedented show of support, 710 volunteers from 25 countries went to Liechtenstein to help dig it out of the mud. Austria and Switzerland sent soldiers to assist in relief efforts.

While there were plans to annex Liechtenstein by Nazi-Germany, the Principality managed to stay neutral throughout the Second World War as well. In 1938, Prince Franz Josef II had moved his main residence from Austria to Liechtenstein. The move to the Principality changed the relationship between the people of Liechtenstein and their ruler: All of a sudden, the Princely Family wasn't a distant symbol anymore but very real and palpable. After the Anschluss of Austria into Germany, a contingent of Swiss border guards was stationed in the Principality to reinforce the frontier. However, some fascist ideas had found their way into Liechtenstein: In 1939, the German National Movement in Liechtenstein staged a coup attempt, first trying to provoke a German intervention by burning swastikas, followed by declaring an Anschluss with Germany. The leaders were almost immediately arrested. 

After the end of World War II, Liechtenstein granted asylum to some five hundred soldiers of the First Russian National Army, a collaborationist Russian force within the German Wehrmacht, who otherwise would have likely faced execution. 500 additional mouthes to feed was quite a feat for such a small and poor country shortly after a war that had devastated much of Europe. The refugees were ultimately resettled to Argentina.

Princess Gina with a French soldier
at the refugee kitchen in 1945
The post-war period saw the slow economic rise of Liechtenstein that later accelarated and let the country reach one of the highest gross domestic products per person in the world. Fun fact #[I lost count]: Back in the 1950's, stamp sales allegedly still contributed up to a third of the state budget. In the following decades, the modernisation of the economy and low corporate tax rates attracted the establishment of companies. Did you know that the Principality is the largest producer of false teeth in the world? (Fun fact #[I lost count+1]) About 40 percent of all false teeth in Europe and about 20 percent worldwide come from Liechtenstein. However, the country's and the Liechtenstein family's greatest riches came by the establishment of the banking sector and some - shall we say - interesting constructions around the avoidance of taxes. While still big in banking, Liechtenstein is no longer considered a tax haven and has been scratched off all blacklists after reforms over recent years.

Something that only came to Liechtenstein rather recently is actually the women's right to vote - one of it's most vocal campaigners: Princess Gina herself. It happened in 1984 with the [sarcasm on] overwhelming [sarcasm off] majority of 51 percent (voted on exclusively by men) after a process taking almost two decades that had seen previous failed referendums in 1968, 1971 and 1973. Though, another fun fact, Liechtenstein was only the second European country, after Switzerland, where men actually gave women the right to vote in a popular vote. In 1990, Liechtenstein became the 160th member state of the United Nations fostering its independence. During the course of the Nineties, they also joined the European Free Trade Association, the European Economic Area and the World Trade Organization. More recently, the country also became a member of the Schengen area in 2012.

The beginning of the 21st century saw a constitutional referendum in Liechtenstein. It was a controversial one, both in the country and abroad, as it gave the Fürst the rights to dismiss the government, nominate judges and veto legislation in addition to the previously held rights to dissolve parliament and call new elections. In turn, the population was given the right to get rid of their sovereign prince or the monarchy all together in simple referendums. In the end, two thirds of the people voted in favour of the revised constitution. In 2004, Prince Hans-Adam II handed over his powers to his oldest son, Hereditary Prince Alois, who acts as his regent. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Weekly Roundup: Two Funerals, A Throne Speech and More

January 12 to 18, 2019

First up, a little addition to last week's roundup: On January 11, Fürstin Paula of Fürstenberg was laid to rest in Donaueschingen, Germany. Among the mourners for Princess Paula, who died at the age of 92 earlier this month, were several members of the Liechtenstein family including Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie as well as Prince Nikolaus.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Prince Louis was back in Luxembourg on Sunday where he attended the Kagami Biraki festival 2019, jointly organised by the Interreg Judo Cooperation and the Luxembourgish Martial Arts Federation, and saw some fighting action. Prince Louis has been the patron of the latter since 2010. More pictures of the event at the cour.
Photo: SIP / Emmanuel Claude
98 and going strong: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel paid a visit to Grand Duke Jean at his home Château de Fischbach. While no details were released, I'm sure the Grand Duke Jean is still very much up-to-date on and interested in the state of government in the Grand Duchy and thus welcomed the visit by the PM.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Also on Tuesday, Grand Duke Henri met with the committee of the Baueren-Allianz, or farmer's alliance, for some unspecified reason apart from the fact that they celebrated their 30th anniversary about a year ago in January 2018 - or is that a typo by the cour? If it is, I feel ya. 

Embed from Getty Images
On Wednesday, the funeral of Count Philippe de Lannoy, father of Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie took place in the Belgian village of Anvaing. In attendance to support the Hereditary Grand Duchess and her family during these sad times were Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, of course, as well as Grand Duke Henri, Prince Louis and Princess Alexandra in addition to Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla, Archduchess Marie-Astrid with her mother-in-law Archduchess Yolande, and Princess Anunciata. Count Philippe de Lannoy passed away on Thursday last week at the age of 96. More photos at Getty Images.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Samuel Kirszenbaum
On the same day, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was in Paris for a previously scheduled event, an award ceremony by the Fondation Stéphane Bern pour l'Histoire et le Patrimoine - Institut de France. The Grand Duchess handed out the History Award to Loris Chavanette for his book "Quatre-vingt-quinze, La Terreur en procès". The cour has more visuals and also stated the the Grand Duchess was sorry that she could not attend the Count of Lannoy's funeral but was present in her thoughts.

More sad news for Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie came later in the week: Her uncle, Dominique della Faille de Leverghem, younger brother of her mother Countess Alix, died on January 13 at the age of 72, as announced in La Libre Belgique. Our condolences go out to the family.
Photo: Daniel Schwender / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Thursday saw Hereditary Prince Alois open Liechtenstein's parliament for this year with the traditional throne speech (and no, neither he nor his father have a literal throne to sit on while doing so). In his speech, the Hereditary Prince called on politicians and Liechtensteiners alike to unite and create a bright future for the country instead of becoming a nation of naysayers. His full speech (as well as a video of the speech) can be found at Vaterland.

Earlier today, Friday that is, Monseigneur le Grand-Duc visited the judicial authorities of the District Court in Diekirch. No pictures as of yet and also not pictures - because it is just about to start - of tonight's event: A concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of the accession of Grand Duchess Charlotte to the throne at the Église Saint-Michel attended by the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess. We will include both events again in next week's roundup.

Pssst, also come back during the course of the week as there will be some extra posts between this and next Friday...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Consort Felix - War and Exile

Let's keep above the fray for a moment and head into the second half of January with a look back into history to learn more about Prince Felix. For the first two parts of our biography series about he husband of Grand Duchess Charlotte can be found here and here.


Felix was in New York City visiting the World's Fair with his son Jean and nephew, Archduke Felix of Austria, when the Second World War broke out in September 1939. Before visiting the Fair, the elder Felix and Jean had stayed at the White House for several days as the guest of President and Mrs. Roosevelt. An outbreak of war in Europe had been expected for several weeks. It is possible (even likely) that Felix planned the trip with Jean to try and garner support for the Grand Duchy in the face of war. While the two considered cutting their visit short, Felix and Jean completed their itinerary as planned, returning to Luxembourg on September 18.

The Grand Ducal Family faced little immediate danger in the first eight months of the war, a period now known as the Phoney War. During this time the Prince Consort posed the idea of quickly building the Luxembourg Army up to 7,000 to 8,000 men. The enhanced forces would not be trained specifically to fight, but rather to block roads and destroy bridges in hopes of deterring - or at least slowing - invasion of the country by the Germans. Felix's plan was not widely supported by the people of the country who still hoped to maintain their unarmed neutrality.

Felix and his family in 1940 at Château de Bostz
The invasion of Luxembourg on May 10, 1940, forced the family to flee the country. For the next two months Felix, Charlotte, his sister Zita, and all of their children raced westward across Europe in an effort to escape advancing German forces. The family stayed in various private homes and hideouts in France and Spain before arriving in Portugal at the end of June. Not confident of their safety in Europe, Felix reached out to his American contacts for help, which was granted.

Charlotte remained in Lisbon on July 15, 1940, while Felix and the children departed for the United States. Eight days later the family arrived in Annapolis, Maryland, via the USS Trenton, a US cruiser. The family was welcomed at the White House where they were guests at a lunch hosted by President Franklin Roosevelt. Felix thanked the American people for their hospitality, and sadly reported that he had no idea when they would be reunited with Charlotte. Felix and his children later traveled to New York where they stayed on Long Island as the guests of Joseph E. Davies, a former diplomat to Luxembourg. Felix's mother, Princess Antonia, arrived with her daughter Isabella in New York in early October of 1940. Felix was there to welcome the two along with his sister Zita and some of her children.
Charlotte and Felix in 1940
The Grand Ducal Family received constant news of the events in Europe. Reports of the Germans mistreating the Luxembourgish people in particular shocked and saddened the family. Between late 1940 and 1942, Felix divided his time mostly between the government-in-exile in Montreal and the United States, attending various dinners, rallies, and presentations as a means of gathering support in North America for Luxembourg. During this time Felix and his family were frequent guests of the Roosevelts. At the suggestion of President Roosevelt, Charlotte and Felix conducted a tour of the United States in 1940 and 1941 to keep the plight of Luxembourg present among the American people. Felix concentrated on visiting the midwestern states where there was a larger population of Luxembourgish-Americans.

In the fall of 1942, Felix and Jean joined the British Army. While Jean joined the Irish Guards, Felix served in a variety of capacities, including heading a group of volunteer Luxembourgish soldiers who had fled to Britain at the start of the war as well as acting as a liaison officer with the French Army.  Following D-Day at the beginning of June 1944, Prince Felix began serving with the 12th US Army Group, where he worked at the headquarters of Patton's Third Army in the far western section of European Allied land forces. This was the start of Patton's Lorraine Campaign, although Felix was reassigned at the very beginning of the campaign. Instead, Felix began his service at the headquarters of the Fifth Armored Division of the Fifth American Corps tasked with a specific duty - the liberation of Luxembourg.

American troops first entered the Grand Duchy on September 9, 1944. Felix and Jean rode in with the Fifth Armored Division troops to a now-liberated Luxembourg City the following day, on September 10, 1944. The public was ecstatic to see both the Prince Consort and Hereditary Grand Duke participating in the country's liberation. The two were hoisted on the shoulders of the countrymen and carried around the streets of the city in celebration.

Felix with Sir Winston Churchill and then Hereditary Grand Duke Jean
shortly after the liberation of Luxembourg
Felix was set to serve as head of the temporary government in Charlotte's absence following the liberation. However, he was not entitled to serve in this capacity per the constitution of Luxembourg, and the position instead was filled by Hereditary Grand Duke Jean. In the meantime, the German army was able to re-establish the front in the northeast section of the Grand Duchy in December 1944. This offensive, now known as the Battle of the Bulge, was set to cause heavy damage to that part of the country. Fortunately the majority of the Grand Duchy remained in Allied hands and Grand Duchess Charlotte and all six of the couple's children were able to return to the country in April 1945.

During the spring of 1945, Felix set out on a more personal mission - finding his sister-in-law Antonia. The Bavarian crown princess and her family had lived the majority of the war in exile in northern Italy as Antonia's husband Rupprecht was an open and firm critic of the Nazi regime.  Antonia and a few of her children were shuffled from one hiding place to another, before Antonia contracted typhus in Austria and was then interred for a time in a series of concentration camps.  Using his contacts with the Allies, Felix was finally able to locate his wife's sister at a hospital in Jena, Germany. Felix took an ailing Antonia back to Luxembourg to continue her recuperation, inviting her children to join her.

Sadly, Antonia was not the only member of Felix's family to suffer from the Nazi regime. His brother Xavier had participated in some Resistance activities during the war and also hid labor camp escapees at his estate in Austria. When his actions were discovered, he was arrested by the Gestapo and eventually sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was forced to endure bouts of enforced starvation. Felix helped to liberate Dachau at the end of April 1945 in hopes of finding Xavier, speaking with Luxembourgish survivors of the camp during his time there. Although Xavier had been moved shortly before the liberation, he was freed shortly afterward and fully recovered from his experience. 
Gianni Battista Cima's Madonna and Child, one of the recovered
Villa Pianore paintings.  (Photo: Caribinieri)
Felix was also to discover that his Villa Pianore in northwest Italy had been looted by the Nazis during the war. While the majority of the items stolen from the villa were returned, three 15th century paintings used to decorate the SS regional offices in Bolzano could not be located at the close of the war, prompting the Italian government to issue Felix a compensation payment at the end of 1945. Nearly seventy years later, the Italian government located the paintings in the holdings of a private collector in Italy in 2014. The paintings were not returned to the Grand Ducal Family due to the earlier payment compensating for their loss.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Luxarazzi in Limbo: What the Heck Is Going On With Royal Watching?

How long have you been reading Luxarazzi? Right from the start sometime all the way back in 2009? Or was it the wedding of Guillaume and Stéphanie that brought you here? Or Félix and Claire? Or maybe it was your love for history? For jewellery? For royal fashion? Whatever it was that brought you here in the first place, we are very lucky with our loyal readership. It's a nice little place on the world wide web. A lot has changed in the past ten years though; we, your writers here at Luxarazzi, and also Luxarazzi itself. We always tried to model this blog to fit our own interests and increasingly busy schedules and also your interests - but for how long we will feel like continue doing that, I just don't know.

In the last few days, we were sadly reminded that the world of royal watching around us has also changed in the past ten years. And not for the better, I might add. One of our own, Heaven who provides us with great insight into wardrobes of the Luxembourg and Liechtenstein ladies, and her fellow writers at UFO No More were right in the middle of this. 

Their annual post on the worth of the wardrobe of several royal ladies has garnered widespread attention. After lengthy discussions with Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan and the Office of Queen Rania, they decided to no longer include her in the list. The information published in previous years had been used against her to criticise Queen Rania. While the writers at UFO No More always clearly stated that they simply published the numbers the new pieces worn that year were worth, others simply took the number and stated for a fact that this was the money a royal lady had spent on their wardrobe. (Just to be clear: There's a difference as royals may lend clothes or get hefty discounts.) 

While nobody would have probably ever talked about the matter again because it had been a year since the numbers were published, the Hashemite Royal Court made sure that the controversy was in everyone's mouth at the beginning of this year, when they issued a press release stating that the numbers were never true and simply made up. Even if Queen Rania didn't actually pay as much for her wardrobe as it is worth according to the retail prices because she borrowed the clothes or got them at reduced prices, maybe she and the people surrounding her should also think about the message she sends wearing usually expensive designer clothes - even if acquired at a lower rate - while being the wife of a head of state of a developing nation.

I do not live in a bubble. I realise that what you write about a royal or a famous person on the internet can have consequences in real life for them, especially when your website garners the attention of the wide-spread media. We have been there with Luxarazzi and while we generally have a good relationship with the cour grand-ducale, they weren't always in favour of all the things we published. And that's fine. In the end, they are a PR outlet for the Grand Ducal Family. We are part of a new form of media and media isn't a PR outlet. We both have every right to exist. Luckily, both Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are free and democratic countries - so we are free to share our opinions and agree to disagree with what the Grand Ducal and Princely Families do. While we generally try to keep the tone light, we always try to make sure to give a balanced view on things.

All of this, however, isn't the reason that I feel like Luxarazzi is in a limbo and cannot predict where we are heading. Instead, it was the reaction by many on social media and elsewhere to the Rania drama and the numbers published for the Duchess of Sussex that just wants us - as I am pretty certain that I can also speak for the other people behind Luxarazzi here - to leave the royal watching world behind. I know that it is probably a byeffect of social media, echo chambers and filter bubbles but when have we lost the ability the process information that does not fit our own narrative? When did we lose the ability to agree to disagree? How boring is live in an echo chamber? Living in a filter bubble, where everyone thinks the same way as you do, will never challenge you and help you to grow and see things from another point of view even if you don't agree.

Yet, when UFO No More published the numbers for 2018, especially some parts of the followerbase of the Duchess of Sussex jumped at the throats of the writers over at UFO No More. Many people even seem insistent that there must be some great conspiracy behind all of it to put Meghan in her place, that the numbers were simply published to tear her down. Do you realise that UFO No More has published the same kind of post even before Meghan came onto the scene? It seems hard to understand to some but there was royal watching well before Meghan. The same people also do not seem to be able to grasp that not every information published about a royal that isn't glowingly praising them is criticism. If anything, if the circumstance that Meghan's wardrobe of 2018 was worth more than that of other royals and the publication of the fact rubs you the wrong way, it is probably a sign that you think that her number is, in fact, too high.

If you care to read the full articles published by UFO No More, you will see that it doesn't include any opinions whatsoever on the numbers. So all opinions and criticisms are projections by the readers. As a blog or website, you do not have control over what others do with the information you provide.  You can take almost any information and make them fit your narrative. A royal is not a celebrity. Monarchy and royalty in 21st century should not not be an end in itself. People are allowed to question and people are allowed to chose. Royals have to navigate the challenges of today, whether criticism is constructive or unfounded. I don't envy them but to deny people to publish researched facts just to raise the pedestal on which a royal is put negates important discussions and reflections - and ultimately growth. 

Weekly Roundup: New Year's Receptions, Concerts, and Interviews

For this week's Roundup, we're featuring the different New Year's events that occurred in recent days.

Hereditary Prince Alois participated in an interview around December 31st, but we're still trying to locate more about it. (We'll update if and when it shows up.)

Additionally, Prince Hans-Adam gave a New Year's interview, in which he talks about Christmas with a large family, as well as how fortunate he feels that his sons have been able to take on professional roles that suit them individually. He also mentions that the 300th anniversary of Liechtenstein will be observed this year, so there are some exciting events to look forward to. Part 1 of the interview here and Part 2 here.

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
Of course, we also want to post again about Grand Duke Jean's 98th birthday celebration on January 5th, with the wonderful family picture that was released.

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
Meanwhile in Luxembourg work activities, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa held the first of two receptions on January 8th. This event welcomed members of the Chambre des députés, as well as the Prime Minister and other members of government.

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
The following day, on the 9th, the Grand Ducal couple held the second reception for members of the Bureau du Conseil d'Etat, members of the Diplomatic Corps currently living in Luxembourg, and members of the Grand Ducal household.

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
Also on January 9th, Grand Duke Henri attended the New Year's Concert performance from the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, under the direction of Sir Lawrence Foster. The Grand Duke has been a patron of this event since 2013.

And back in Liechtenstein, Prince Hans-Adam, Princess Marie, Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie also held a New Year's reception at Schloss Vaduz on Thursday. Many more photos available here.

Earlier today, the sad news that the father of Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has passed away reached us. For more information, we direct you to this post.

The Count of Lannoy Has Passed Away

Photo: Cour Grand Ducale / Guy Wolff
Count Philippe de Lannoy, father of Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg, has passed away on Thursday, January 10, at the age of 96, the cour grand-ducale has announced. Our deepest condolences go out to the Hereditary Grand Duchess, her siblings and family.

The Count of Lannoy was born on August 14, 1922, as the first son of Count Paul de Lannoy and his wife née Princess Béatrice de Ligne. In 1965, he married Alix della Faille de Leverghem and the couple had eight children with Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie being the youngest. Countess Alix de Lannoy passed away in 2012 shortly before the wedding of her youngest daughter. The Count of Lannoy is survived by his children, children-in-law and several grandchildren. He is succeeded as the head of the House of Lannoy by his oldest son, Count Jehan.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Grand Duke Jean Celebrates 98th Birthday With His Family

Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
Grand Duke Jeans turns 98 years young today - Team Luxarazzi would like to take the opportunity to wish His Royal Highness a very happy birthday and health for the year ahead. The cour grand-ducale was so kind as to release a photograph of Grand Duke Jean celebrating his birthday at Château de Berg with (some of his) family.

First row from left:
Count Constantin and Count Léopold of Limburg-Stirum (sons of Archduchess Marie-Christine and Count Rodolphe)

Second row:
Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa

Third row:
Prince Louis, Archduchess Marie-Christine with youngest son Count Gabriel, Count Rodolphe, Countess Diane, Prince Jean, Princess Sibilla, Archduchess Gabriella with daughter Victoria, Archduke Alexander, Princess Charlotte and Princess Alexandra

P.S. Our Weekly Roundups will return next week as the Grand Ducal Family and Princely Family are still largely on their Christmas break.