Saturday, January 24, 2015

Prince Philipp and Princess Theodora Attend Showjumping Event

Photo: Screenshot
Prince Philipp and his granddaughter Princess Theodora were in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier today, where they handed out the prizes at the LGT Private Banking Challenge. The show jumping tournament is part of the Mercedes-Benz CSI Zurich. Prince Philipp and Princess Theodora already handed out the Challenge's award together last year. This year's challenge was won by Ludger Beerbaum and Zinedine. Other members of the Liechtenstein family such as Prince Philipp's wife, Princess Isabelle, or Princess Theodora's parents, Prince Alexander and Princess Astrid were likely also present for the event.

The whole LGT Private Banking Challenge show jumping event can be watched in the video below. The award ceremony starts at around 1 hour and 39 minutes.

Luxarazzi 101: Princess Sibilla's Diamond and Ruby Necklace

Generally, the Grand Ducal Collection lacks a little when it comes to rubies since the ruby pieces owned by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte were sold at an auction a few years ago. However, there is still one family member who owns a lovely and major ruby piece: Princess Sibilla. The wife of Prince Guillaume may not have a large personal collection but it still includes some major pieces including her very own Diamond Art Deco Tiara.

Princess Sibilla's necklace features small central rubies surrounded by diamonds in what seems like a flowery motif with additional ruby drops attached to them set on a diamond necklace. In addition there are two large all diamond flowers on each side of the ruby and diamond motif. The piece is believed to have been a gift by Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte to their daughter-in-law upon her wedding to their youngest son, Prince Guillaume, in 1994. Princess Sibilla first wore the necklace to her pre-wedding ball. She continues to do so to almost every event she attends that requires some bling.

(Also notice the lovely diamond drop earrings Princess Sibilla is wearing in some of the pictures above. As said, her collection might be small but its mighty when it comes to carat-size and loveliness.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Grand Duke's Letter to the New King of Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia died early this morning at the age of 90. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his brother the now former Crown Prince Salman. On the occasion, Grand Duke Henri sent a letter of condolences to the new King of Saudi Arabia also including best wishes for his future. (Below the full letter.)
Your Majesty,

On the occasion of the passing away of His Majesty Abdullah bin Abdulazi, the King of Saudi Arabia, the Grand Duchess and I would like to send You and through You to the Royal Family our most heartfelt condolences and warmest sympathy.

With regard to Your accession to the throne, We like to express to You our most heartfelt congratulations together with our best wishes for Your personal well-being and for the prosperity of the people of Saudi Arabia.

Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No Throne But a Speech

Photo: Daniel Schwendener / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Liechtenstein might not have a literal throne - you know, one you can actually sit on - but the country's head of state (or his regent) still gives a speech from the throne once a year. (The English King's or Queen's speech translates into the German Thronrede (throne speech.)) For the eleventh time, Hereditary Prince Alois gave said speech today in front of the Principality's parliament while not sitting on a throne but standing instead. And when he did not stand, he sat on a normal parliament chair.

The so-called "throne speech" is held every year during the opening of parliament at the beginninig of the year. In this year's speech, the Hereditary Prince covered a number of topics ranging from the future of the health and welfare system, the challenges of the demographic change, the future of Liechtenstein's economy as well as the decision of the Swiss National Bank to abandon its currency ceiling of 1.2 Swiss francs per euro.

For the full speech, have a look at Vaterland, who offer a transcripted version. Likewise, a number of visuals of the speech can be found at Vaterland, a video of it at 1 FL TV.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Prince Hans-Adam, His Brother, the Economy and the Nation State

...or possibly what seems like our longest blog title ever, but anyway: As recently reported about, Prince Hans-Adam was in Klosters, Switzerland, to give a talk about his book "The State in the Third Millenium". The book, which has been translated into a variety of languages, deals with the modern nation-state and the question of how to make a traditional democratic constitutional state both more democratic and more efficient. As it turns out now, 1 FL TV was in Klosters as well and filmed Prince Hans-Adam's speech. It was shown in two parts yesterday and today; they can be viewed here and here.

In addition, Prince Hans-Adam also talked to 1 FL TV about a planned city train between Austria and Switzerland that will also lead through Liechtenstein. It is a much debated topic in the Principality. The Prince does not say whether he is in favour of the new train line or not but he hopes that it will be profitable for the country and bring an easing in terms of traffic.

It also seems like Prince Hans-Adam (surprise, surprise) isn't the only one in the Princely Family who has an opinion on the recent decision by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to abandon its currency ceiling of 1.2 Swiss francs per euro. While his cousin Prince Michael thinks that "it would have been irresponsible to continue the currency purchase programme" (more here), his brother Prince Philipp points out that the move might damage Liechtenstein's economy (more here). (FYI, the Principality has been in a monetary union with Switzerland since 1924.)

Grand Duke Welcomes New Ambassadors

Earlier today, Grand Duke Henri welcomed a number of newly appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Grand Duchy for audiences at the palais. Petr Kubernat from the Czech Republic, Maria Christina Lundqvist from Sweden, Istvan Alfaro Solano from Costa Rica, Joshua Rimarkindu Kalinoe from Papua New Guinea as well as Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi from Pakistan all presented their letters of credence to the Grand Duke.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Guillaume at a Concert for Solistes Européens, Luxembourg

On Monday, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume attended a concert for Solistes Européens, Luxembourg, which is under the patronage of Grand Duke Henri.

At the concert, conductor Christoph König led, with soloist Jean Müller performing on the piano.

No photos of the event have been released yet, but they'll be added here if any show up.

A link to the photos on the Cour website.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Prince Hans-Adam in Klosters

Photo: Schweizer Gewerbeverband sgv
The 66th Gewerbliche Winterkonferenz hosted by the Swiss Small and Medium Sized Business Association took place in Klosters last week. The last speaker of the industrial winter conference on this past Friday evening was Prince Hans-Adam II. Liechtenstein's head of state talked about his book, "The State in the Third Millenium", which deals with the modern nation-state and the question of how to make a traditional democratic constitutional state both more democratic and more efficient.

A number of pictures of the event can be found on the website of the Schweizer Gewerbeverband. Vaterland has a video with an interview with Prince Hans-Adam at the conference in which he talks about what the recent abandonment of the currency ceiling of the Swiss franc will mean to Liechtenstein's economy. (In short, he believes that it won't effect the Principality's economy too much.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Château de Clervaux

Photo: Jean-Pol Grandmont / Wikimedia Commons
Members of the Grand Ducal Family may have used the last name "de Clervaux" as an alias while studying abroad, however, the family does not have any connections to the castle in the Luxembourgish town by the same name. Instead, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has. Well, (if I did my maths correctly) the brother of her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and his descendants have. (That's nine times great, in case you were just about to start counting.)

Claude de Lannoy, aforementioned distant relative of the Hereditary Grand Duchess, came into the possession of the Château de Clervaux in 1631 after the death of his brother-in-law Godefroid d'Eltz. In 1617, he had secondly married Claudine d'Eltz who inherited the County of Clervaux including the castle by the same name upon her brother's death. Claude de Lannoy (1578–1643), Comte de la Motterie, himself was a Flemish nobleman who was Governor of Maastricht and Namur and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Clerveaux ca. 1834
The origins of the Château de Clervaux date back to the 12th century: The west wing including the manor house was built by Count Gerhard (or Gérard) of Sponheim, brother of the Count of Vianden. By the beginning of the 15th century, the House of Brandenbourg had taken possession of the castle. The family made major changes to its appearance including the Burgundy Tower to the south. Apart from its protective function, the tower was also used as the castle's jail. Later they also added more living accommodation, cellars as well as the so-called "witch tower".

In 1492, Margaretha de Brandenbourg-Clervaux, heiress to the County, married Nicolas de Heu, who was considered one of the wealthiest citizens of Metz. After his death in 1535, the mother of five children superintended all her lands and properties herself until her death in 1563. When her son and heir Martin died four years later, her daughter Elisabeth became the sole heiress of all the possessions of the Counts of Clervaux. She married Godefroid d'Eltz and they became the parents of the above mentioned Godefroid and Claudine.

Three years after inheriting the castle in 1631, Claude de Lannoy, founder of the Lannoy-Clervaux branch of the House of Lannoy, had the north wing rebuilt. Instead of rather shabby dwellings and stables, luxurious spacious reception rooms, including the Hall of Knights in Flemish-Spanish style, now formed the northern part of the Château. Count Claude died on a battlefield near Dunkirk in 1658 and his son Albert-Eugène inherited Clervaux.

Photo: Jean-Pol Grandmont
The new Count added administrative buildings, stables and barns thus demolishing a local church. In 1671 a watchman's lodging was erected at the castle entrance. Also taking part in several military expeditions, his debts became so enormous that the Parliament of Metz ordered him to auction off possessions of Clervaux worth 60,000 pounds. Albert-Eugène's son and eventual successor Adrien-Gérard appealed against the decision and it was ruled in his favour: The castle remained in the hands of the Lannoy-Clervaux family. In 1699, the King of Spain, Charles II, granted Count Adrien-Gérard the right to organise weekly markets at Clervaux.

Adrien-Gérard died childless in 1730. In his testament, he had named his nephew Damien-Adrien-Gérard his sole heir. In 1762, the new owner's son and heir Jean-Baptiste had the "Loreto Chapel" built in the castle's park. When the French revolutionary army invaded the country, he borrowed 60,000 pounds from some of the citizens of Clervaux and fled the country. The castle was neither confiscated nor put up for auction as the people of Clervaux declared that it was owned by a "Citizen Lannoy".

After the end of the French revolution, Jean-Baptiste's elder son Félix Balthasar returned to Clervaux and took possession of the castle once again. With the deaths of Félix's childess sons Léopold and Adrien in 1841 and 1854 respectively, the Clervaux branch of the House of Lannoy died out in direct male line. As per Adrien's testament, his wife, née Baroness Amélie de Tornaco, was to inherit the castle. The will, however, was contested by Count Napoléon de Lannoy-Clervaux, Prince of Rheina-Wolbeck, another grandson of Count Jean-Baptiste by his third son, Florent.

Clervaux in 1938
After 20 years of legal battle, it was decided that Clervaux would indeed go to Adrien's widow. By virtue of judicial ruling, the Lannoy family was barred from inheriting the estate and thus it went to Count Adrien de Berlaymont, nephew of Adrien's widow. In 1887, he had the administrative buildings of the first courtyard demolished and used the stones to build a luxurious villa in the park. He sold the castle's archives to the city of Metz, where they remain to this day. After his death, Clervaux was inherited by his nephew Guy de Berlaymont. During the following years, it was heavily neglected and encumered with debts.

In 1927, the castle and the surrounding area were sold at an auction and became private property until three years later. Towards the end of the Second World War during the Battle of the Bulge, German troops damaged the castle so heavily that nothing but a burnt out ruin remained. The ruin became government property and was later restored. These days the Château de Clervaux houses offices of the local government, the local tourist office, a collection of models of Luxembourg's fortified castles, the Museum of the Battle of the Bulge exhibiting weapons and souvenirs from the 1944-1945 Ardennes offensive, and a collection of documentary art photography, the "Family of Man" by Edward Steichen, which has been visited by Grand Duke Jean and Princess Margaretha as well as the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Grand Ducal Family to Honour Nazi Victims

Later this month, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess as well as the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess will travel to Poland for commemoration events in Auschwitz and Slonsk. Both couples will be accompanied by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

On January 27, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie will be among the guests for a commemoration event marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. More than 230 Luxembourgish jews deported to Poland by the Nazis died at the camp. Another 31 Luxembourgish residents were also deported to Auschwitz, a third of which were also killed.

Three days later, on January 30, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa will visit Slonsk, the place of the Sonnenburg Massacre. During the night from January 30 to 31, 1945, as Allied and Russian forces were approaching German borders, the Sonnenburg prison became the site of a brutal mass murder in which 91 Luxembourg citizens were killed. The Luxembourgish detainees had been imprisoned for refusing the join the German Wehrmacht (armed forces).