Sunday, March 31, 2019

Luxarazzi 101: Hereditary Princess Sophie's Diamond and Sapphire Demi-Parure

Luxarazzi turns ten this year, Luxarazzi 101 has been around for about seven years - see all our plentiful posts here - and so there aren't very many jewels left for us to have a closer look at. While we admit that all of Team Luxarazzi gets distracted by sparkling objects rather easily, there is also a deeper reason we like royal jewels so much: These tiaras, necklaces, earrings and brooches oftentimes tell fascinating stories, help you to trace history and show the connection of royal families. Just think of this diamond and pearl brooch that has been owned by at least three reigning European families, Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara or the Habsburg Fringe Tiara.

Back in the day, when royal ladies married into other houses, they brought along some of their family's sparkling jewellery. While we don't see that as often anymore these days, there are still a few examples. Cases in point: Both Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg, who are both of royal/noble descent. While yours truly hopes that Sophie is one day in the hopefully distant future set to inherit her mother's Douglas Floral Tiara, we are going to have a closer look at a sapphire and diamond demi-parure already owned by the Hereditary Princess, who was born a Duchess in Bavaria, today.

Embed from Getty Images

Truth be told though, we don't actually know for a fact that the necklace and earrings, which can be worn in at least two different settings, has been in the Wittelsbach family before Sophie married Hereditary Prince Alois. However, with the depth of their jewellery collection, it is not hard to imagine. The Hereditary Princess first wore the demi-parure for her pre-wedding ball at Schloss Nymphenburg in 1993 together with the Bavarian Pearl and Diamond Floral Tiara. Since then, she has oftentimes worn the pieces consisting of a single sapphires each surrounded by diamonds for events that required some major bling yet no tiara. And who knows, maybe we will see the pieces again later this week as there is a very rare royal event coming up: A Liechtenstein state visit... So keep your fingers crossed for these (or any, really) major jewels!

And if you would like to keep yourself busy with some more jewellery while we wait for the state visit to Switzerland, check out this documentary on the jewels of the Wittelsbach family, which includes interviews with Sophie's father, Duke Max in Bavaria, and also her uncle Duke Franz of Bavaria.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

No, Not Everyone Can Be A Princess - Why Women Should Rule the World

You know, it probably won't come as a major surprised to you that I occasionally check into the Instagram account of a certain former member of the Grand Ducal Family every once in a while. While we took decision as Team Luxarazzi to stay above the fray when it comes to the ongoing divorce proceedings of Prince Louis and his wife Tessy who announced their separation more than two years ago, there is just something I want to get off my chest... The other day I saw this post:


"Everybody can be a Princess. It is something you fell and express by your actions and words. Not by a name given to you", Tessy writes - and while I am sure it was well intentioned, it just somehow rubs me the wrong way. No, not everyone can be a princess. It is not a name (unless you live in a former monarchy where titles became part of a legal last name). Instead, it is a title - and it is not even a title that someone attains by their own accomplishments, but a title someone has by the virtue of their birth or by marrying someone. Considering we live in the 21st century, I would classify neither as an achievement. 

Being a princess doesn't make you a better human being either. It is who you are as a person who makes you a better human being, but still not a princess. Let's face it, the whole point of it has always been privilege and elitism. If everyone could be a princess, what is the point of being one to begin with? Be defined by yourself and your own actions and not a title bestowed on certain people based on the luck of their birth or marriage. Apart from a possible superficial first attraction to your title, it doesn't make you an interesting person. It is what's beneath that counts.

I also keep wondering: What is the obsession with being a princess to begin with? If these ranks are achievable, I would want to be a Queen, thank you very much. Or better yet, an Empress. A Grand Duchess, a Landgravine, the Princess - someone who rules the world (or a tiny part of it) in her own right. Not a princess, which just means being the wife or daughter of someone without any actual power whatsoever. We live in the 21st century, it is time we stop defining women by being someone else's mother, wife or daughter. Young girls should dream of and aspire to be the woman who rules the world, not the wife or daughter of someone who does.

With fairytales and Disney omnipresent, it is not hard to imagine where society's obsession with being a princess comes from. It’s something easy to daydream about: The prince on a white horse who comes, sweeps you off your feet and takes you to his fairytale land and you live happily ever after. However, that isn't the reality of life - and frankly it would be a pretty boring one at that. Perhaps someone should write the story about Cinderella ten years on, with five kids, stretch marks, a whining staff, and she and Prince Charming having the same argument they've been having for a decade?!

So in the end, I can't help but I think if the desire to "be a princess" by grown women is also actually an unstated preference for having a life of ease and privilege with very little responsibility. And that's hardly something for young women to aspire to. It's like striving to be famous instead of striving to be talented. So to all the girls and women out there: Be the Queen, be the Empress, rule the world!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Weekly Roundup: Audiences and More, Basically Everything That Happened But "Stand Speak Rise Up"

March 23 - March 29, 2019

This week in Luxembourg and Liechtenstein royal news was very much incluenced by "Stand Speak Rise Up!", the international conference committed to ending sexual violence in fragile environments initiated by the Grand Duchess. To learn all about it, please have a look at our article about because it deserves every own article it can get and much more. In our Weekly Roundup, we will cover everything else that happened.
Photo: Liechtensteiner Vaterland / Vaterland.li
Already on March 20, Hereditary Prince Alois received the alumni association of the Liechtensteinisches Gymnasium at Schloss Vaduz - and no, the German word Gymnasium doesn't have anything to do with sports but instead is an academic high school. It is also the school the Hereditary Prince and his siblings attended. More information at Vaterland.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
On Monday, Grand Duke Henri received George Tsereteli, president of Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, also known as the OSCE, for an audience at the palais.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Later that same day, the Grand Duke was on hand of an adademic session organised on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the European Centre for Geodynamics and Seismology. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Walferdange Underground Laboratory for Geodynamics. More pictures at the cour.
Photo: IKR
On Wednesday, the 'package meeting' (whatever that means) of the EFTA Surveillance Authority took place in Liechtenstein. The delegates also paid a visit to Schloss Vaduz where they were received by Hereditary Prince Alois.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Grand Duke Henri rounded off the week by receiving several new ambassadors to Luxembourg on Friday. The incoming ambassadors from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia and Barbados all looked dapper presenting their letters of credence to the Grand Duke.

Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Family "Stand Speak Rise Up!"

Photo: Stand Speak Rise Up
The much anticipated "Stand Speak Rise Up!" conference took place in Luxembourg this week. The international conference committed to ending sexual violence in fragile environments was initiated by the Grand Duchess together with the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation and We are NOT Weapons of War (WWoW), supported by the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society and the Luxembourg Government.
Photo: Stand Speak Rise Up
The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of sexual violence in conflict zones, particularly rape as a weapon of war. Sadly both have experienced in upsurge in today's conflicts yet are rarely talked about. While sexual violence is a deep-rooted global phenomenon affecting every human being, women are oftentimes the most vulnerable. Fragile environments, such as war and guerilla zones, displaced communities, detention centres, isolated rural villages and areas ravaged by natural disasters, are fertile grounds for these heinous crimes that have become part of military strategy and a weapon of war.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
Already on Saturday, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa celebrated her birthday with a party together with 50 survivors of sexual violence in conflict zones who had already travelled to the Grand Duchy for the conference that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
On Monday, the Grand Duke welcomed two of the conference's attendees, Atifete Jahjaga, former President of Kosovo, and Pramila Patten, United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, for audiences at the palais.
Photo: Stand Speak Rise Up
The actual conference took place on Tuesday and Wednesday with a concert at the Philharmonie rounding off the event. It was great to see so many family members coming out to support such an important cause. Among those who attended the various events related to the conference were, of course, Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duke Jean, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Prince FĂ©lix and Princess Claire, Princess Alexandra, as well as Archduchess Marie-Astrid and Princess Anunciata and Princess Charlotte (daughter of Guillaume and Sibilla).

Pictures of the conference are available on Flickr as well as at the cour here and here. RTL has several news reports about the events, here and here for example, as well as a lengthy interview with the Grand Duchess.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Weekly Roundup: An Audience, and Flash Mob, and Birthdays

March 16th-22nd, 2019

Another fairly slow week, with just a few events to note:

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
On March 19th, Grand Duke Henri received in audience a delegation from Fairtrade International and Fairtrade LĂ«tzebuerg. The Fairtrade Organizations focus on improving trade standards, particularly within developing countries.

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
On the 20th, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa participated in a flash mob to raise awareness about sexual violence. This event comes in advance of the Stand Speak Rise Up forum, on March 26th and 27th, which the Grand Duchess will also attend. More photos of the flash mob here.

Photo: © Anne du Chastel, GenĂšve 2018
On March 21st, Princess Claire had her 34th birthday, with photos released for the occasion.

Photo: © CGD Samuel Kirszenbaum
And finally, on March 22nd, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa celebrated her 63rd birthday, with the photo above being one of those released for the occasion.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Weekly Roundup: Couture, Springbreak, and the Special Olympics

This week proved to be slightly slower, so there are only a few items to mention:

Photo: Domenico Dolce / Town & Country / townandcountrymag.com
Princess Astrid appeared in couture for Domenico Dolce's new book Queens: Alta Moda di Dolce & Gabbana, which features some of the women whose style he admires most. For more about the book (and it's $350 price tag), see here.

Photo: © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
On the 14th, Grand Duke Henri attended the 3rd annual opening of Springbreak Luxembourg, which runs from the 14th through the 17th and features new products, foods, artists, and upcoming trends. No photos just yet. Photo added, and link to more photos here.

Photo: Special Olympics Liechtenstein Facebook page
And finally, Princess Nora is in Abu Dhabi to support the Liechtenstein athletes at the Special Olympics. Check out the Facebook page for more photos. Paul-Louis is there as well, as is Tessy who wrote about the opening ceremony for RTL.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Weekly Roundup: Exhibitions, Openings, Memorials, and More

March 2 to 8, 2019
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
First, let's keep a promise from last week: On last Friday, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duke Henri attended an event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Scouts and Guides of Luxembourg - and here are the visuals to prove it.
Photo: eadersnet.at / D. Mikkelsen
Already earlier last week, on Wednesday to be specific, Prince Philipp was in Vienna to hand out this year's LGT Media Award. The awards went to journalists Christian Höller, Jeannine HierlÀnder, Nicole Stern and Jakob Zirm. More information.
The brother of FĂŒrst Hans-Adam II and Chairman of the Board of the LGT Group then headed to Thailand later in the week to cut a ribbon and thus officially open LGT's new Bangkok office. He was joined by another family, Prince Hubertus, who is also a member of the Board. More information.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Meanwhile in Luxembourg, Grand Duke Henri attended a memorial mass for his aunt Princess Alix, the Dowager Princess of Ligne, who died last month. He was joined for the mass at the Église Saint-Michel on Tuesday by Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla as well as several of his cousins for the occasion. More pictures.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
On Wednesdey, Monseigneur le Grand-Duc received the Prime Minister of Russia Dimitri Medvedev for an audience at the palais. The Russian Prime Minister, who was on an official visit to the Grand Duchy, also got a small tour of the Grand Duke's official residence. See more photos.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Thursday it was on Grand Duke Henri's agenda to visit an exhibition about the origins of Chinese civilisation at the MusĂ©e National d’Histoire et d’Art (MNHA). The cour offers a small selection of visuals of the event.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
Also on Grand Duke's agenda later that same day: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Publications Office of the European Union with an academic session. Based in Luxembourg, the Publications Office is an interinstitutional office whose task is to publish the publications of the institutions of the European Union. More pictures.
Photo: Paul Trummer / Liechtensteiner Volksblatt / Volksblatt.li
And last but certainly to least: Another event that actually already took part last week and was wholly missed by us mainly due to the fact that there is surprisingly little information available. The Landesmuseum in Liechtenstein is showing an exhibition about the Principality's 300th anniversary and Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie went to the opening. No more information at Volksblatt.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Weekly Roundup: Abu Dhabi and Beyond

February 22 to March 1, 2019

It has been a rather quiet week in Luxarazzi land but nonetheless it's time for our Weekly Roundup... 
Photo: Photo: Abu Dhabi Festival
On Monday, Prince Philipp and Princess Isabelle attended the opening of the Abu Dhabi Festival Exhibition showing paintings of the Princely Family in, you guessed it, Abu Dhabi. The exhibition is entitled "Distant Prospects – European Landscape Paintings from Liechtenstein" and will run through to March 25 at the Gallery S at Manarat Al Saadiyat. It features works by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Joos de Momper, Jan Brueghel the Younger and Peter Paul Rubens, among many others. While in  the United Arab Emirates, Prince Philipp and Princess Isabelle also paid a visit to the local Louvre.
Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale
On Thursday, Grand Duke Henri welcomed several new ambassadors to Luxembourg. The incoming ambassadors from the Seychelles, Myanmar, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), San Marino and Mozambique all presented their letters of credence to the Grand Duke at the palais. More photos.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue
To mark International Women's Day, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa received members of the National Counsel of Women at ChĂąteau de Berg on Friday. The counsel represents twelve different organisations in the Grand Duchy. More photos.

Also on Friday, Grand Duke Henri received the the first responders to the horrific accident at the munition depot that happened in Luxembourg last month and killed several soldiers. Already last week, he and Prince SĂ©bastien paid their final respects to the deceased soldiers during a military ceremony.
Photo: IKR
Also on Friday, Hereditary Prince Alois met with the General Secretary of EFTA Henri GĂ©taz, his deputy Pascal Schafhauser as well as Ambassador Peter Matt at Schloss Vaduz. EFTA is the European Free Trade Association the Principality is a member of.

This evening, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duke Henri attended an event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Scouts and Guides of Luxembourg. No pictures as of yet so we will add that to next week's post.
Photo: Photo News via Getty Images
Last but not least, an addition to last week's post: On February 19, Princess Margaretha attended the traditional mass for the deceased members of the Belgian royal family at the Ă‰glise Notre-Dame de Laeken.