Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Royal Summer Weddings


This seems to be the summer of royal and noble weddings, non? Belgium, Isenburg, Ysenburg, Oettingen, Habsburg, Castell - and the summer is far from over. This past weekend, Prince François d'Orléans married Theresa von Einsiedel in Straubing near Munich, Germany. While the groom is a nephew of the Orléanist claimant to the defunct French throne, the bride has some very royal connection very relevant to this blog herself. Through her mother Countess Amélie of Urach, whose mother was Princess Iniga of Thurn und Taxis, she is a great-granddaughter of Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg, sister of Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde and Grand Duchess Charlotte.

Probably more due to friendly ties instead of this relation, Princess Maria-Anunciata, elder daughter of Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha, was among the guests of the wedding. Also present were Prince Gundakar, second cousin of Liechtenstein's head of state, and his wife Princess Marie, a first cousin of the groom who actually introduced the newly weds to each other at a ball in Vienna. Prince Gundakar and Princess Marie were already among the guests of the wedding of Magdalena Habsburg-Lothringen, or Archduchess Magdalena of Austria if you want, and Sebastian Bergmann in Bad Ischl the weekend prior.

For more information and pictures of the Einsiedel/Orléans wedding, check out Royal Travel and Events. A big Dankeschön to Stefan for letting me use his pictures!

Luxarazzi 101: Burg Nassau

Pictures: Wikimedia Commons
Burg Nassau, or Nassau Castle, is considered the ancestral home of the Nassau family. Today, the castle, perched 120 meters (or almost 400 feet) above the Lahn River, consists of two main parts: a tower, which 33 meters (or 108 feet) and a palace. Both contemporary structures are reconstructions of the original buildings.

The tower of the castle was commissioned by Count Dudo-Heinrich of Laurenberg. He was the son of Robert, who was the vogt of the Archbishop of Mainz. The role of vogt, based on a word that originated from the Latin advocatus, was one that encompassed both political and military protection within a clerical territory. Dudo-Heinrich is now considered the founder of the Nassau family, but this position did not come without conflict.

Today, historians tend to concur that construction of the original tower began around the year 1100. There is documentation to suggest the castle was already built by 1093, but historians consider the supporting document to be a forgery and this date to be unreliable. The construction of the tower immediately placed the count into dispute with the diocese of Worms The diocese, which was headed by the Bishop of Worms, claimed that the new structure was on their land, but the count continued work all the same. It should be noted that this was not the first time Dudo-Heinrich found himself up against a clerical territory. His political support eventually found him in dispute with archbishops in Cologne, Mainz, and Trier.

Dudo-Heinrich died in 1123, but his sons assumed his political aspirations. Both Ruprecht I and Arnold I, co-Counts of Laurenberg, planted themselves at Burg Nassau. It was Count Robert I who styled himself "Count of Nassau," a title that the Bishopric of Worms denied to acknowledge until 1159, when Dudo-Heinrich's grandson Walram I was officially granted the title.

Count Heinrich II, known rather fortuitously as "the Rich," was the son of Walram I and thus the great-grandson of Count Dudo-Heinrich. Around 1220, he commissioned a large palace to accompany the tower, and work on it continued for about a decade. A keep was later constructed in the 14th century.

Heinrich divided the role of Count of Nassau between his sons Walram II and Otto, and it is from the lines of these brothers that the modern members of the Nassau family trace their descent: Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, hails from the Walram line, while King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is a member of the Ottonian line. Additionally, all cities, towns, and other regions bearing the name of Nassau (such as Nassau, Bahamas, and Nassau County, New York) – but one – reflect the Nassau family. The one exception in this case is a village in Saxony that is located near Dresden.

A document from 1346 indicates that a second tower might have been added to Burg Nassau at some point, but no further information remains about it. Any second tower has long since been destroyed, and there is little even in the way of ruins to suggest its existence.

The counts of Nassau held Burg Nassau as their seat of power through the Middle Ages, but the family relocated to other castles and palaces (including Schloss Biebrich and Stadschloss Wiesbaden) as the decades progressed. A 17th-century engraving by Matthäus Merian the Elder points to Burg Nassau still being proudly intact at that time, but in the centuries to follow the castle fell into disuse and decay.

The end of World War II saw this once-impressive structure in almost complete ruin. In 1965, the Staatliche Schlösserverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz, or State Castle Administration of Rhineland-Palatinate, took over possession of the castle, and in 1976, they undertook a large-scale reconstruction project that rebuilt both the tower and the palace. Today, the keep of Burg Nassau is open to tourists, free of charge, while visitors can enjoy a restaurant in the main building. What is more, the Registry Office of Nassau makes several rooms of the castle available for weddings, and a variety of medieval-themed events are also held there throughout the year.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

French Pilgrimage

Photo: Véronique Le Bagousse / Le Télégramme
On July 26th, 1914, Pope Pius X declared Saint Anne the patron saint of Brittany. 100 years on, around 20,000 pilgrims, including Princess Marie-Astrid and her husband Archduke Carl-Christian, gathered in Sainte-Anne-d'Auray in north-western France to mark the occasion.

The most notable feature of the village located about three miles from the town of Auray is a large basilica dedicated to Sainte-Anne d'Auray. The original chapel was destroyed during the 7th century and only rebuilt more than nine centuries later. One of the villagers is said to have had apparitions of Saint Anne commanding him to rebuild the chapel. After the apparitions became frequent and well-known throughout the entire region, the Bishop of Vannes allowed the chapel to be build.

Anne of Austria and Louis XIII enriched the sanctuary with many gifts, among them a relic of St. Anne brought from Jerusalem in the thirteenth century, and in 1641 the Queen obtained from the Pope the permission to erect a confraternity, which Pius IX raised to the rank of an archconfraternity in 1872. The first stone of the present day basilica was laid in 1866.


Source: Le Télégramme

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Royally Speaking with Ella of The Court Jeweller and The Royal Roundup

In part two of our summer interview series I talked to the lovely Ella Kay who you might know from a number of different blogs she has dedicated her time to over the years...

From Mad Hattery via A Tiara a Day to The Court Jeweller and The Royal Roundup, I think I have been there as a faithful reader on every step of your royal blogging life. Was the progress from hats to jewels a natural one for you or have you always been primarily interested in royal jewels? 
I initially got interested in royals because I love history, and my first royal blog (also named The Royal Roundup, started way back in 2008) had lots of historical content. Mad Hattery branched off from there, and once I realized that I could talk about sparkly headpieces too, I was hooked on royal jewelry. I love the way that the jewels give you the chance to mix history lessons with unabashed gawking at beautiful objects.

The Danish ruby parure
Personally, one thing I always found incredibly interesting about royal jewels is their history. Of course they look pretty – well, most of them do – but learning who else wore a certain tiara or a certain necklace centuries ago and how they passed from one family to the other simply fascinates me. What is the most interesting story you have ever come across while researching royal jewellery?
The story of the Hessian tiara that survived the 1937 plane crash in Belgium is a historical jewel anecdote that always gives me chills. But it's also fascinating to see centuries-old jewels that are still worn. Knowing that the rubies worn by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark were worn 200 years ago by Desiree Clary at Napoleon's coronation, for example, adds an extra dimension of excitement when you see her wearing them today.

Digging into the Liechtenstein and Luxembourgish vaults… If you could borrow one tiara from either family for a night, which one would it be? And with which necklace, bracelet and earrings would you accessorize? 
That's a tough question, so I'm going to pick one from each! The Habsburg fringe tiara from the Liechtenstein collection is, in my opinion, maybe the best example of the type out there. And I'd love to have a crack at the vine leaves tiara from Luxembourg -- so romantic and beautiful! And you could load on the diamonds with either, of course. The beautiful collet necklace that Maria Teresa wears sometimes with the Empire tiara would be a perfect fit, along with Josephine-Charlotte's diamond pendant earrings. (They didn't sell those, did they???) [Note: Unfortunately they were.]

Photo: Tom Wagner
And now the opposite, which tiara from either collection would you take to the jeweller to give it a make-over because it simply does not appeal to you? 
Sorry to say that the little turquoise tiara from Luxembourg would be taking a trip to the jeweler. I know the piece is apparently one of the older items in the Nassau vaults, but it just doesn't seem to flatter anyone in its current state!

Lastly, if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would find an invitation in their mailbox? (And which tiara should they be wearing?) 
This is a seriously difficult question! Here are my six guests (the all-female edition, since tiaras are required): 
- Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (wearing the emerald set from the Danish crown collection)
- Queen Mary of the United Kingdom (wearing the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara and every diamond in her line of sight)
- Tsarina Marie Feodorovna of Russia (wearing the sapphire parure from her 1874 portrait)
- Queen Marie of Romania (wearing one of her giant theatrical headpieces)
- Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (wearing the Stuart parure, of course!)
- Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (wearing the Alexandra kokoshnik and every Cullinan stone she can find) 
[Honorable mentions, because this was an IMPOSSIBLE question: Marie-Adelaide of Luxembourg, the Duchess of Cornwall, Marie Antoinette, Josephine of Leuchtenberg, Queen Ena of Spain, Empress Eugenie of France, Josephine de Beauharnais, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Victoria of the UK, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots! WHEW.]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Citrine or Topaz and Pearl Tiara

Photos: Raymond Reuter / Point de Vue / Getty Images
The title of today's post already hints at certain uncertainties when it comes to this tiara which we are thus going to call the Citrine or Topaz and Pearl Tiara. There are a pair of earrings, a necklace that can be worn with a varying number of pendants, as well as a bracelet to go with the tiara making it a parure.

While citrine is a variety of quartz whose colour ranges from a pale yellow to brown, topaz is a colourless and transparent stone usually tinted by impurities and thus available in an array of different colours. Whether a stone is a citrine or a topaz is notoriously hard to tell apart simply by looking at pictures as they largely only differ in hardness. Natural citrines, which mostly originate from Brazil, are rare but were pretty popular during the Art Deco period. Topazes, in general, would be a bit easier to come by and both pink and light blue topazes have been used in a number of royal and noble tiaras.

As it isn't commonly known where the Grand Ducal Family's [insert kind of yellow stone] and pearl tiara originally comes from, it is a bit hard to tell what the stone used might me. If I should make a guess, I would probably say it's topaz but simply because I think it would be easier to come by a larger number of equal yellow topazes and because the tiara doesn't look like Art Deco to me per se. However, I'm no expert and so it could just as easily be citrines.
Photos: Corbis / Place Royale / Getty Images / Cour grand-ducale
To the best of our combined knowledges plus a friendly helper, the parure was firstly worn by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte during a state visit to Italy in January 1980. Though the tiara certainly wasn't her favourite (read: most worn) of all pieces, she did sport it on a number of occasions following that. The tiara was also worn by then-Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa during the early 1980's.

It wasn't seen after these outings for quite a while and only resurfaced when it was worn by Princess Margaretha during her parents 1999 state visit to Belgium. It vanished once again until Princess Alexandra got it out of the vault for National Day in 2011. Since then, it has been both worn by the Grand Duchess during a state visit to Germany in 2012 and by Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie during Princess Madeleine's wedding in 2013. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa also sported parts of the parure for the wedding dinner of Archduke Christoph and Archduchess Adélaïde in December 2012.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Royally Speaking with Stefan of Royal Travel and Events

Guess what, summer (on this side of the globe at least) has kicked in. Not only the weather around my longi- and latitude shows that it is summertime but also the lack of Luxarazzi news. To keep both you and us entertained, we thought we'd introduce you to some of our favourite royal bloggers (in no particular order) via a few questions we asked them to answer. Breaking the ground is Stefan of Royal Travel and Events.

For your blog you regularly cover German royal and noble weddings and occasionally birthdays and funerals. Is such a major event also your first royal memory or how did you get interested in royalty?
My interest in Royals started in 1988 after Princess Beatrice was born and not much later there was the big wedding of Duchess Mathilde of Württemberg with Hereditary Count Erich of Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg which took place in Altshausen not very far from where I live and therefore got much coverage in the local press here.

Personally, I am always impressed by your skills to recognise lesser known royals. Do you recall how many royal and noble weddings you have been to? Is there one - wedding or royal - that has especially stayed in your memory for whatever reason?
The first wedding I went to was the wedding of Duchess Fleur of Württemberg and Count Moritz of Goess in 2003. After that one I have been to many weddings; I don't know how many it were, probably somewhere between 15 and 20. I particularly like the smaller German weddings like the one of Prince Ludwig zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn and Countess Philippa Spanocchi or Prince Heinrich XXIV Reuß and Countess Dorothea zu Castell-Castell as one can come closer and see much more than at the big weddings.

Photo: Stefan / Royal Travel & Events
Almost two years ago you also were in Luxembourg for the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie. How did you experience their wedding and the celebrations surrounding it?
It was a wonderful experience. Of course there were so many people and onlookers that it was difficult to see much but on the other hand I met so many other Royal Watchers and people who share the same interest as me. And I think I have never before seen so many royals and nobles than at this wedding.

Turning to the other aspect of your blog, royal travels, which is your favourite castle and which ones are on your bucket list to see in the future?
Generally I like the castles where noble families still live as I find it more interesting when it is still inhabited instead of a museum. Two castles I like very much are Schloss Zeil, which is the residence of the Fürst and Fürstin of Waldburg zu Zeil and Trauchburg, and Schloss Neuenstein, the residence of the Princely Family zu Hohenlohe-Oehringen.

Lastly if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, which ones would find an invitation in their mailbox?
Difficiult question. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, the late Archduke Otto of Austria, the Duke of Edinburgh, my last King Wilhelm II of Württemberg, the Empress Friedrich and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Europe's Smallest

Euromaxx, the culture and lifestyle show of Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, is currently doing a segment series entitled "Europe's Smallest" covering Europe's smallest states. Episode three was about the Principality of Liechtenstein and unsurprisingly both the Princely Family as well as Schloss Vaduz featured in it as Hereditary Prince Alois gave a few quotes about the country's system of state.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Princess Claire in Monaco

Photo: MonacoInfo
New mum Princess Claire recently privately visited Monaco where she attended the gala dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Ladies Lunch at the New Yacht Club last Friday. The association’s goal is to raise funds for Monegasque charity associations benefiting children and adolescents by organising two lunches a year which are exclusively attended by women. A video of the event can be found here, just skip ahead to 0:57 to see Princess Claire.

(Un grand merci à The Royal Correspondent for sending me the video!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Solo Polo Princess

Photo: Hong Kong Tatler
After three princesses in 2012, two princesses and a future princess last year and just when I thought I had it all figured out when the Pro Alvear charity polo match takes place in St. Tropez each July, the whole thing is moved to London and takes place a month earlier. Among the guests for the charity event on June 7th at the Ham Polo Club in Richmond was Princess Marie-Astrid who seems to have gone sans sister, Princess Maria-Anunciata, this time around or at least wasn't photographed with her but instead with Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon. As Richmond is ringing kind of a bell, I wouldn't be surprised if any of Astrid's cousins or their spouses were in attendance as well. More photos of the event in general are available at Hong Kong Tatler.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein

When talking about history's longest royal reigns, one often comes across Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, there were a few reigns in history that lastest longer; one of them being that of Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein. Ruling over the Principality for 70 years and 90 days, the Prince, who was actually considered as an unsociable person and only visited the country five times during those seven decades, gained the nickname 'Johann the Good' by the people of Liechtenstein. How that happened? Read on.

Johann as a child
Born on October 5th, 1840, at Schloss Eisgrub, which is now known under its Czech name Lednice, as son of Prince Alois II and his wife née Countess Franziska Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau, he was baptised on the name Johann Maria Franz Placidus. Despite being considered a sickly child, Prince Johann was educated in no less than five languages (German, English, French, Italian and Czech) from an early age. His main teacher was the Catholic social reformer Baron Karl of Vogelsang who was also later to accompany the prince on his travels through Europe.

Aged only 18, he became the Prince of Liechtenstein upon his father's death of November 12th, 1858. Even though he was considered an adult by the family's house law, his mother acted as his regent starting on February 10th, 1859, to enable Prince Johann to finish his education. During the following months and years he attended university lectures in the German towns of Karlsruhe and Bonn as well as Brussels and Paris while travelling throughout Europe. Prince Johann's main interests lay in the natural sciences, especially botany, as well as visual arts.

Around 1870
During the early 1860's Prince Johann returned to Vienna to take over the responsibilities of running the Principality as well as the family's possessions from his mother, Princess Marie. After his return he soon engaged his former teacher Jacob von Falke and the manager of the Princely Collections Dallinger to catalogue all paintings. Published in 1873, the catalogue contained 1451 paintings. Being a bit puritan, Prince Johann II decided to to sell many of the paintings featuring naked women. He also considered selling many of the family's Rubens paintings but thankfully the collection's director could intervene.

However, 12 years later the Vienna-based collection only contained 839 paintings though Prince Johann II also started a purchase policy to close gaps and enlarge the collection mainly by the purchase of works of early Italian and Dutch artists as well as sculptures and furniture. In 1912, he ordered that the collection of the Liechtenstein family's archive be brought to Vienna to store it all together.

Prince Johann though wasn't only a patron of the arts who often gifted artworks to museums or cities, he also regularly donated money to archaeology and geography ventures as well as medical research. He built numerous hospitals, schools and churches throughout Liechtenstein and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Principality's villages of Vaduz, Schaan, Ruggell and Balzers all owe their parishes churches to the Prince's building acitivities. Prince Johann II also had extensive renovations works done to Burg Liechtenstein, Schloss Vaduz, Burg Fischhorn and Schloss Sternberg and made changes to the castle gardens in Eisgrub/Lednice. Interestingly, the Prince voluntarily paid six million Kronen income tax in Austria even though, as a foreign head of state, he did not have to do so.

Around 1870
Although Prince Johann I was a very benevolent person, who was nicknamed 'Johann the Good' by the people of Liechtenstein, he only rarely made public appearances and was considered to be shy and almost unsociable. He visited Liechtenstein between September 24th and October 4th, 1859, and a further four times during his reign. However, the Prince's unsociable character even extended further than official appearances as he also missed many family occasions, such as weddings, due to leading a very withdrawn life. Nevertheless, he always seems to have had an open ear for people's problems.

Giving out scholarships to students and providing provision for old age of former employees, he was always quick to provide the necessary money for building projects, such as public buildings, churches and even roads in the Principality. He also gave lots of money to the people of Liechtenstein when large parts of the country, which had about 11,000 inhabitants at the time, were destroyed by the Rhine floods of 1927. The fact that he largely wasn't present but more of a generous mystical figure in the background even kind of endeared him to the people who usually blamed the present officials if anything went wrong.

Politically, he was also a withdrawn person who wasn't quick to make major decisions. One of his very first acts was the introduction of a new education act, followed by a new constitution in 1862. He was the last Liechtenstein ruler to have sent soldiers into a war or to, in fact, even have an army. Not having seen a single enemy soldiers and with one more man than they had left with, the mobilised soldiers returned home to the Principality after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Both paying for the mobilisation of the troops with his own money as well as the dissolution of the army on February 12th, 1868, further endeared Prince Johann II to his people. Already in 1862, he had become the 987th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleec.

In 1908
During the First World War, which Prince Johann II mainly spent on his Moravian estates, Liechtenstein remained neutral as country though as it had close ties with the Austro-Hungarian empire, the war years were still very difficult ones for the Principality. The  monetary, postal and customs union with Austria were dissolved after the war and Liechtenstein entered a monetary and customs union with Switzerland. In 1921, Prince Johann II signed a new Liechtenstein constitution, the one remaining until today, into law.

Having remained unmarried and with no children of his own, Prince Johann II's direct heirs were elderly. There was his younger brother Prince Franz (*1858) as well as his cousins once removed, Prince Franz de Paula (*1868) and Prince Alois (*1878). To avoid having to pay inheritance taxes numerous times during the following decades, all three of them waived their rights to the majorat in 1923 and thus Prince Alois' oldest son, the future Prince Franz Josef II, became the direct heir to the family's possessions. While Prince Franz de Paula and Prince Alois also gave up their rights to the throne, Prince Franz was to follow his brother as the Prince of Liechtenstein.

Sickly during the last years of his life, Prince Johann II withdrew even more from the public and the family's eye until he died at the age of 89 on February 11th, 1929, at Schloss Feldsberg (Valtice). He was buried at the Old Crypt of the Princely Mausoleum in Vranov u Brna.