Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Grand Duke Henri Receives Ambassadors

On Friday, November 14th, Grand Duke Henri received five ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary in audience, each presenting his credentials at the Grand Ducal Palace. (In this case, no women were among the received ambassadors.) The dignitaries were, in succession: His Excellency Dr. Mark William Christopher Higgie from Australia, His Excellency Mr. Abdulrahman Sulaiman Alahmed from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Mr. Dharar Abdulrazzaq Razzooqi from the State of Kuwait, His Excellency Mr. Amar Belani from the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, and His Excellency Mr. Nopadol Gunivabool from the Kingdom of Thailand.

The title of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary indicates the highest ranking ambassadorial position, an individual who is the primary diplomatic representation for a country. Traditionally, the role belonged to the direct ambassador from one sovereign or head of state to another, Today it generally refers to the permanent ambassador serving on a foreign mission.

Pictures from Brazil

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie are on an economic mission to Brazil this week. And while pictures are still a little hard to come by, there are a handful on the website of the government

What they've exactly been up to? On Monday and yesterday - Tuesday that is - the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple and their delegation including the Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna, visited São Paulo. On Monday, they met Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer to discuss political and economic matters as well as the bilateral relations between Brazil and Luxembourg. In addition, they also held talks with executives of the BTG Pactual, Safra, Bradesco and Banco Original banks. Yesterday, they attended an economic seminar organised by Luxembourg for Finance, bringing together more than 220 professionals in finance.

Luxarazzi 101: Diane von Furstenberg

I haven't done maths or anything but Diane von Furstenberg certainly is one of the Hereditary Grand Duchess' preferred designers. From the iconic wrap dress via a tweed dress and jacket combination to a lace evening gown, Princess Stéphanie owns a number of pieces by the Belgian-born American fashion designer with the very noble name.

Born Diane Halfin, Diane von Furstenberg married German Prince Egon of Fürstenberg in 1969. (Fun fact: The predicate attached to the Fürstenberg princely title actually is zu rather than von but I guess zu is not as universally known.) The couple divorced two children and three years later but the designer continued to work under her first husband's name.
More royal support for Diane von Furstenberg apart from Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie (and a number non-Luxembourg or Liechtenstein royal ladies) comes in the form of Hereditary Princess Sophie, who has also worn a few of the designer's signature wrap dresses. It was actually these wrap dresses that shot Diane von Furstenberg to fashion fame. She first entered the fashion world in 1972 having already designed her first silk jersey dresses during an apprenticeship at the factory of textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti previously. Two years later, in 1974, she created the now iconic wrap dress.
By 1976, Diane von Furstenberg had sold more than one million dresses and while I don't know how many she has sold since, I can tell you that both Princess Maria-Anunciata as well as Princess Marie-Astrid at least own one Furstenberg dress each. After a number of other ventures and a hiatus from the fashion world, Diane von Furstenberg re-launched the iconic dress that started it all in 1997, thus reestablishing her company.

These days the Diane von Furstenberg brands sells a full collection of ready-to-wear fashion and accessories including shoes, handbags, small leather goods, scarves and fine jewelry, as well as luggage, eyewear and home furnishings. In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award. Forbes currently ranks Diane von Furstenberg as the 68th most powerful woman in the world.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Guillaume and Stéphanie in Brazil


Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie are visiting Brazil this week as part of an ecnomic mission. Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna and some 70 representatives of Luxembourgish companies also form part of the group, which arrived in Brazil on Sunday and while stay until Thursday. The economic mission will lead the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess both to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Today they were, among other things, received by the Vice President of Brazil, Michel Temer.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that there will be some more pictures of the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple's Brazilian adventures soon!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Princess Alexandra Visits Red Cross Bazaar

Photo: RTL
It's that time of the year again. The holiday season begins with the annual Red Cross Bazaar at the Halle Victor Hugo in the Limpertsberg district of Luxembourg City. While this engagement is usually one for the Grand Duchess, she was not present but instead represented by her only daughter, Princess Alexandra, this time around. Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa is still recovering from her knee surgery and so viewing heaps of stands in an exhibition hall probably is not the best of ideas.

With all the interest in first solo engagements we had lately, it's interesting to note that this is the first solo engagement of Princess Alexandra since Luxarazzi was established in late 2009. However, this is not her first solo engagement in history as she both attended the 2008 and 2009 finals of the basketball Coupe de Luxembourg all by herself. She was accompanied for the Red Cross Bazaar today by the Minister for Family and Integration, Corinne Cahen, and Luxembourg mayor Lydie Polfer.

While RTL has a video of the event (starting at 1:37), pictures can be found at Tageblatt, Wort
and on Manuel Dias' website

Interview with Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein

Earlier this year, Prince Joseph Wenzel, oldest son of Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie, gave his first interviews. Simply known as Prince Wenzel since he was a toddler, the future Fürst of Liechtenstein finished school earlier this year. The following interview was conducted early this summer and published in Volksblatt, one of Liechtenstein's two major newspapers.

Photo: IKR
Volksblatt: Your Serene Highness, in May of this year you finished school with your Matura school leaving examination. This 'examination of maturity' [there is the word Reifeprüfung in German, an old word for the school leaving examination but still often used today in a figurative way] is often described as the the end of the first chapter of ones life and is often followed by a phase of detachment from the parental home [by moving out, starting a life of your own, etc.]. Does this apply to you as well?
Prince Wenzel: As I already went to boarding school in England for the past few years, this process started a little earlier for me. However, I always liked to come back home and I think this won't change even now that I have finished school.

Were you able to have a normal and happy childhood and teenage years, to invite school friends to your home and simply do what a normal teenager does?
Yes, I think so. I don't think it was any different for me than for other people my age. Since I started primary school until today, I have always had a nice circle of friends which I could both visit and invite home. It was important for me especially as a teenager to grow up like everyone else in this - and all other - regards.

Photo: EinTracht
In difference to many other noble families, the life of the Liechtenstein Family does not take place in the gossip columns of the media. Are you happy about this or would you like a little more attention for yourself?
It has always been important for my parents and grandparents not to make it into the gossip columns. I agree with them as it gives me the chance to move freely, grow up and live my life like any other person.

When did you become aware that you carry a special responsibility and would one day inherit the throne?
I think, to a certain degree, it has always been in the back of my head that being the firstborn means that I would one day take over my father's role.

Did you, in comparison to your siblings, receive a special education that would prepare you for your future role?
No, we all went to the same schools and also received the same education outside of school. Naturally, there were a few aspects of his work that my father explained a little more thoroughly to me. 

Photo: EinTracht
Have there ever been days when you felt that the responsibility was a burden and you wished that you wouldn't have been born a prince?
There were days when I felt a certain Fernweh [basically feeling homesick for abroad] to have options and possibilities, which I would not be able exhaust. However, there is a lot of time left until I will need to take over my father's duties and so I have the chance to experience many different things.

How much do you think about your future role and what role does it play in your career management?
When I go to university, I will follow in my father's and grandfather's footsteps and study either law or economics. I haven't thought about the time after university in too much detail but I expect to live abroad for a few years to get work experiences under my belt and then return to Liechtenstein.

To what extent are you interested in Liechtenstein's current situation, the challenges the country faces and the politics?
Of course we discuss various political matters in our family. This only raises my interest but as I lived abroad for the past few years, I haven't been able to get into all the details.

Photo: EinTracht
Do you actively follow your father's work and does he involve you in his work?
As I said, I have lived abroad for the past few years and thus we only had limited time together. But whenever I was home, my father was able to give my a first insight into his work.

How close are you to your grandfather Prince Hans-Adam and is he a role model for you?
In the winter I always went skiing with my grandfather and during the summer months, we went fishing. So we have always had a close relationship. Nevertheless, he has also been a role model for me, especially as he always had an answer and explanation to every question I had.

What are the differences between you and your father and grandfather, respectively. Do you see any parallels between yourself and them?
Other people probably have a better answer to this question.

Photo: Exclusiv
How much has your grandmother, Princess Marie, influenced you? And what have you learned from your mother?
I think it is only natural that I have learned a lot from both of them.

The aristocracy has its own rules and ceremony: Do this principles and rituals, which some people view as outdated, still have a future for you?
I don't think that modern noble families like mine still have rules and rituals that are outdated and without any future. In difference: I am under the impression that during a time many people complain about a certain decline in values, many get more interest in noble families and the way they maintain certain values.

Which Liechtenstein tradition do you like the most? What's near and dear to you when it comes to the Principality?
I have always liked about Liechtenstein that we have such an informal and familial atmosphere. That everyone knows everyone says a lot about the positive of the country, I believe. This especially shows on days like our national day.

How would you describe Liechtenstein in five [well, six in English] words to a foreigner?
A small jewel in the Alps.

What do you wish for your and what for Liechtenstein's future?
Success, may we both do well.

Grand Duke Attends Book Festival

Photo: Guy Jallay / Luxemburger Wort / Wort.lu
On Friday, Grand Duke Henri attended the Walfer Bicherdeeg in honour of its 20th anniversary. The Walfer Bicherdeeg lasts three days, from Friday the 14th to Sunday the 16th, and offers numerous events, including Friday evening's "Nuit de la littérature", which Grand Duke Henri was present for. This event showcased authors readings from their works and musical and comedy performances.

The 20th anniversary celebration also includes the unveiling of a newly created app that allows users to explore the literary scene in Luxembourg.

More photos are available at Wort.

Liechtenstein Celebrates Silver Throne Jubilee

Photo: Roland Korner / IKR
Yesterday, the silver throne jubilee of Prince Hans-Adam II was celebrated with a concert and a mass at the Kathedrale St. Florin in Vaduz. Among those present were the Fürst himself, his wife Princess Marie as well as Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie with their youngest son, Prince Nikolaus.

The concert and subsequent mass included music by the cathedral's choir, soloist Karl Jerolitsch and wind players. Pieces by Franz Schubert, Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Georg Friedrich Händel were the festive musical framework of the mass in the fully occupied church.

Another picture is available at Volksblatt.

Princess Maria-Anunciata in Paris

Back in September, on the 24th to be precise, Princess Elisabeth of Thurn und Taxis hosted a cocktail party at the Hôtel Prince de Galles in Paris to celebrate fashion week. Among its guests was Princess Maria-Anunciata of Liechtenstein, oldest daughter of Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha, who happily posed for a picture together with Sol de Medina y Orléans e Bragança. Princess Elisabeth of Thurn und Taxis does not only come from a very famous and very rich noble family, she also is a Vogue Style Editor At Large.

More pictures of the event in general can be found at Getty Images.

(A big thank you to our reader Henri who sent in the picture!)

Book Review: "The Nassaus of Luxembourg" by Kassandra and Sabrina Pollock with Arturo E. Beéche

There's a new book out on the Grand Ducal Family: Earlier this year, EuroHistory.com published "The Nassaus of Luxembourg" by Kassandra and Sabrina Pollock with Arturo E. Beéche mainly focusing on the lives of Grand Duchess Charlotte and her five sisters.

When Team Luxarazzi first heard about the book, we were thrilled to bits. An up-to-date English-language book about several members of the Grand Ducal Family?! That sounded like heaven. Something further enhanced by a statement of the authors: 

"This book's concept began with our frustration over the lack of English language sources available on the six beautiful Nassau sisters of Luxembourg, their descendants and the families they married into. We, however, wanted to know more. Thus, we braved our way through whatever foreign language materials we could find, and as we learned more about the princesses' lives our interest grew to include the account of their parents' courtship and eventual marriage, a union which is one of the more touching but tragic of history's untold royal love stories. Nor would the narrative of the sisters' lives be complete without an explanation of how their grandfather came to inherit the Luxembourg throne. We hope you enjoy our effort..."

In the end, I suppose, our expectations were simply too high. Though admittedly the quality between the different parts of the book varies greatly. "The Nassaus of Luxembourg" consists of an introduction and eight chapters (A New Dynasty - Grand Duke Adolphe; The Sickly Heir - Grand Duke Guillaume; A Grand Duchess Maligned - Marie Adelaide; A Beloved Grand Duchess - Charlotte; A Popular Princess and Aunt - Hilda; A Tragic Crown Princess - Antonia; A Giving Princess - Elisabeth; A Spared Princess - Sophie), followed by notes, bibliography and index.

While we thought that the book would put its focus on the lives on the six daughters of Grand Duke Wilhelm, it turned out that it basically covers the Nassau family including the siblings of Grand Duke Adolph, the present day descendants of the sisters, as well as the 23 Bourbon-Parma siblings of Prince Felix. Of course this isn't bad per se but as the book only covers 211 pages excluding notes, bibliography and index, you can guess how thorough it can be. To Nichole and I, the book did not include a lot of new information, apart from a few anecdotes and stories around Princess Antonia and her family (which clearly make the best chapter of this book).

Due to the way it is structured, we would probably recommend this book to readers who don't know much about the Grand Ducal Family generally and would like to get a bit of an overview but not to anyone doing serious research or wanting to delve deep into the family's history. However, the book contains a number of factual errors; here just three examples:
- Page 34: "Thirty-five years later in 1947, his [Grand Duke Wilhelm's] daughter Charlotte had her father's remains returned to Luxembourg, where he was interned in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City." (-- Correction: Grand Duke Wilhelm remains interned in the crypt of the castle church of Schloss Weilburg in Germany.)

- Page 88: "She [Princess Anita of Hohenberg] has labored tirelessly to regain possession of Konopiste, a beautiful estate the Czecjoslovakian [sic] goivernment [sic] ilegaly [sic] epropriated [sic] from her grandfather after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. [-- Correction: The fact that it is her sister, Princess Sophie of Hohenberg, who has worked to regain Konopiste is the least of this sentence's problems, I believe.)

- Page 115: "Since they [Prince Jean and Countess Diane] only married civilly, given Prince Jean's previous marriage, Madame de Guerre does not have a title. (-- Correction: Marriage and titles in the Grand Ducal Family are based on consent and not whether a religious wedding took place. The former Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy became Princess Stéphanie of Luxembourg on the day of her civil wedding as her marriage received the Grand Duke's consent. Much the same applies to the former Claire Lademacher who became Princess Claire of Luxembourg on her civil wedding day based on her father-in-law's consent to her wedding. In difference, the former Tessy Antony became Tessy de Nassau upon her civil wedding as the Grand Duke did not give the required consent. This did not change even though she religiously married Prince Louis. It is true that the former Diane de Guerre did not enjoy a title right after her marriage because it did not receive the Grand Duke's consent. However, she became a Countess of Nassau in 2012 on the basis of the changed bylaws concerning the house law.)
These and a number of other factual errors make it difficult to even recommend "The Nassaus of Luxembourg" to beginners. Someone not familiar with the topic would need to be extremely cautious and double check information provided as not to start out learning mistakes. We're aware that you should never take information provided in a book for granted and that many other books on various subjects also contain mistakes but in this case we are able to identify them and there were a shocking lot. (And that's not counting those twelve mistakes already corrected on a piece of paper delivered together with the book.)

A few other things that bugged us about the book were the mispelling of names, using Wikipedia as a source of information, or being quite judgmental at times. (E.g. stating that someone was "an unlikable man" -- While this might very well be true, shouldn't you give examples of someone's behaviour and then let the reader decide instead of giving them a prefabricated opinion?!)

Turning to something that is nice about the book: Its abundance of pictures. The text is interspersed with lots of older (and some newer) pictures of the Grand Ducal Family and their relatives. While many of the pictures will seem familiar to those interested in the history of the Nassau family, there are a number of pictures that aren't as readily available but instead new (to us at least).

If you would like to get your own impression of the book, "The Nassaus of Luxembourg" written by Kassandra and Sabrina Pollock together with Arturo E. Beéche, you can order it via Amazon. (Note: We are part of the Amazon Affiliates Program.) The hardcover book published by EuroHistory.com contains 240 pages and costs about $48.95.