Monday, September 1, 2014

Baptism of Princess Louise-Marguerite d'Orléans

Photo: L'Echo republicain
Yesterday, Princess Louise-Marguerite d'Orléans, youngest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Vendôme, was baptised at the Église Saint-Pierre in Dreux by Abbé Jean-Marie Lioult. The baby princess' godparents include Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg and Princess Marguerite of Liechtenstein, fourth child of Prince Gundakar and Princess Marie, as well as Archduke Michael of Austria, the Duke of Luynes and Prince Alvaro d'Orléans-Bourbon.

For more pictures, have a look at Newscom.

Grand Duchess Meets Pope

Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa was received in audience by Pope Francis at the Vatican today. The Grand Duchess was the Pope's first visitor after the summer break and while the Press Office of the Holy See did not communicate the reason for her visit to the Vatican - as can be heard in the video above, they talked about her family - it presumably either had to do with her being a Catholic, the Catholic wife of a sovereign, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, or generally committed person. Whatever the reason, Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa did to excercise her privilège du blanc and instead wore black.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Royally Speaking with Sophie of All Things Royal

With quite a bit else going on, I feel that we have neglected our Royally Speaking... series a little but don't worry, we're far from done. In today's edition I talked to Sophie of the Dutch-language website All Things Royal.

I know you count Diana, Princess of Wales and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands among your favourite royals, was it with either of them that your interest in royalty started out or was it some other way?
It all started with Diana! I was six year old and loved browsing the Dutch gossip magazines to look at pictures of her. Especially pictures of her in evening gowns and tiara. She really was, in my mind, the fairytale princess. Two years later, 1992, the War of the Waleses began. The pictures of a unhappy Diana and all placed me firmly in Team Diana. I went to the library to get the Morton-book. Very quickly I was a know-it-all about Diana (allthough biased). In the nineties I did read up on other monarchies, but wasn’t interested then. When Filip married Mathilde, Willem-Alexander was in a serious relationship with Emily Bremers and the first engagements in the Dutch royal family happened, I started to get more serious about the other monarchies. I picked a good time, because a whole lot of engagements, weddings happened and babies were born! Sadly funerals too.

How and why did you decide to set up the Dutch-language blog and forum All Things Royal?
Well, my late father was a journalist and amateur historian and in the late ‘90’s he got into webdesign to create a website about the history of the village where we lived. I got interested and he tought me to create a website. Because royalty was my hobby and interest, a theme was easily picked. In 2004, I decided to make it more professional and the number one Dutch source on royalty (yikes, that does sound very ambitious!). I was a member of The Royal Forums (then called Les Tribunes Royale) and thought a forum would be a good idea as well. Now, 10 years later, the site is still going strong!

There are a lot of people who can't necessarily understand a deeper interest in monarchy, how would you explain to a none-royal watcher what keeps you interested in royalty year after year?
That’s a difficult question! Of course the ‘Circle of Life’ (weddings, babies, funerals) keeps you going. Scandals help too. Tradition and history play a huge part. I love learning about the history and traditions of royal families. And I find my interest has shifted towards the lesser known and former European royal families, so there is a lot of catching up to do!

Which royal family are you personally most interested in and why?
The Dutch royal family, obviously. Why? Well, they are a loving family and professional in how they handle their royal work. They are also exquisite in how to handle and maintain their bond/connection to the Dutch people. Compared to the royal family of Belgium (where I live)… But I do follow the Belgian and Luxembourg family as well, because of the historical ties and family ties.

And last but certainly not least, if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, which ones would find an invitation in their mailbox?
Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie: she is my age and a fellow Belgian. She seems very sympathetic and friendly so I have the feeling we would get along and I would love to hear how her life is and how Luxembourg as a country is. 
The Duchess of Cambridge: I am just interested how the real Catherine is and how she deals with the stardom/celebrity status that the media desperately wants to give her? How does she cope with it? And to talk about William and a bit about Diana. 
Queen Máxima: She will bring the bling and the fun. Though I would like to talk to her about how she felt about leaving everything behind her. Was it difficult? How did she decide moving to the Netherlands was worth doing it? 
Queen Elizabeth II: she is an institution but I am really curious to how she really is. 
Princess Charlene: to give her some pep talk. 
Crown Princess Victoria: she is very spontaneous and has a lovely family. And I feel she will be a very good person to have a serious talk about life with.

Royals Celebrate 200 Years Kingdom of the Netherlands

Yesterday, the Netherlands celebrated the anniversary of their Kingdom once again and our fellow royal watcher Arjan - find him on Twitter here - was in on the action and wrote about it for us - Thank you so much, Arjan!

As some of you might know, the Kingdom of the Netherlands exists for 200 years. In the period 2013-2015, several events all over the Netherlands have taken/ will take place to celebrate this milestone. Yesterday, the place to be was Maastricht, in the far south of the Netherlands. Maastricht is perhaps the most international city of the Netherlands: it's very close to the Belgian and German borders and Luxembourg isn't very far away either. To give you an idea: Luxembourg is much closer to Maastricht than Amsterdam or The Hague. Maastricht also gives its name to the 1992 treaty which laid the blueprint for the European Union as we know it today. So: a suitable place for celebrations that were meant to highlight the international outlook of the Kingdom. 

Along with, of course, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the celebrations in Maastricht were attended by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg (Luxembourg shared its Grand Duke until 1890 with the Kingdom), King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians (Belgium has been a part of the Kingdom before gaining independance) and President Joachim Gauck of Germany with his partner (Germany is the most important trading partner of the Netherlands).

As Maastricht is less than two hour drive from where I live, we (that's me and my boyfriend) decided to make a day of it and yesterday morning, we jumped in the car for a day of some serious royalty watching, some shopping and having dinner.

First we went to the Markt. We arrived at 12h30. We got a very nice spot and then the waiting game began. As many of you know, good royalty watching requires a lot of patience (kudos to my boyfriend, who let himself be persuaded to accompany me), which will be rewarded in the end with having a good view and (in my case) being able to make some pictures. At the Markt a 'spectacle of music and fashion without borders' would take place. Sounded promising. The royals and president would arrive two hours later, so we had to entertain ourselves in the meantime with watching the rehearsals and watching some silent protesters against the monarchy (they only held high a sign). We spotted some well known journalists, saw some minor guests arrive and then in the end, the royal bus arrived: that's what we were waiting for.

Before the show began, the distinguished guests would go into the Town Hall for a short speech by the Major of Maastricht and the signing to the guest book. Then they would get out again and pose for the media for a moment.

The guests took their seats and the show began. I'll be honest: I didn't care for it (and when I took a look at my timeline on Twitter, many shared my view), though a few poems were nice and I really liked the violin ensemble, which combined their sound with some modern beats. The fashion was too much I think, which made it seem like the guests were attending a fashion show. Well, I looked at the royals for most of the time anyway. The Grand Duke and Queen Máxima, who were seated next to each other, seemed to have a great time anyway: they shared many laughs together.

After an hour the 'spectacle' was over and the guests left. Fortunately, there was no rain during the show (the forecast was quite bad). The guests left for an international congress and we decided to get a drink and do some shopping.

Before having dinner, I couldn't resist waiting for the royal bus to come by for some last snapshot. It was a lucky one! BTW: I love the practical interior of the royal bus: very sensible, those holes in the table for drinks! You don't want to spill on your expensive frocks during a bumpy ride, do you?!

After that, we were starved and had dinner in a nice (and cheap!) little restaurant in another beautiful and surprisingly quiet part of the city centre. Travel advice: visit Maastricht some time! To me, it's the most beautiful city in the Netherlands.

Thanks for the ladies at Luxarazzi for giving me the honour of writing a piece for their fantastic blog, which is really one of my favourites (they do a great job, don't they?)!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

200th Anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa are in the Dutch town of Maastricht today, where they participated in an event marking the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands alongside King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, as well as German President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt. While the Grand Duchess sported an outfit which looks like a creation by Natan, the Grand Duke honoured his hosts by chosing a Nassau-coloured tie.

The event today under the motto "Hello World" is part of a series of Dutch celebrations marking the 200th anniverary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which already started last year and will run till next year. Together the with their guests from their two neighbouring countries, Germany and Belgium, as well as Luxembourg, the Dutch royal couple enjoyed a musical fashion and art show to kick off the days celebrations. The fashion-art show is currently being followed by a congress at the Vrijthof Theatre entitled "Hello World!: Reflections on the Netherlands" including a speech by the German President.

After a short visit to the Preuvenemint, Maastricht’s annual culinary festival, the royal and presidential visitors will proceed to the Gouvernement aan de Maas (offices of the provincial government), where they will be greeted by a delegation from the citizens’ militia, the St Caecilia Royal Brass Band from Puth and giant puppets. The visit by the four heads of state will close with a dinner organised by the provincial government.

More pictures of the day can be found at ANP #1, ANP #2, RTL Nieuws, Belga and probably all over the (Dutch-speaking) internet.

(Almost) Daily Business

In what seems like the most common of all Liechtenstein engagements, Hereditary Prince Alois welcomed four new ambassadors to Liechtenstein at Schloss Vaduz yesterday to receive their credentials. The ambassadors presenting their letters of credence were Ado Elhadji Abou of Niger, Vaanchig Purevdorj of Mongolia, Rod Harris of New Zealand and Mehmet Tugrul Gücük or Turkey.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wedding of Princess Amélia de Orléans e Bragança

L-R: Anunciata & Astrid of Liechtenstein, the bride and groom, Xenia of Croÿ & Ludwig of Bavaria, Charlotte of Nassau
Photos: Point de Vue
On August 16, Princess Amélia de Orléans e Bragança, daughter of Prince Antônio and his wife née Princess Christine de Ligne and thus granddaughter of Grand Duke Jean's sister Princess Alix, married Alexander James Spearman at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo in Rio de Janeiro. Among those who attended the Brazilian nuptials were Princess Anunciata and Princess Astrid, daughters of Princess Margaretha and Prince Nikolaus, as well as Princess Charlotte, daughter of Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla.

Several other Luxembourg descendants, such as Princess Xenia of Croÿ and Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, great-grandchildren of Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, or Countess Sophie de Nicolay and her sons Count François and Count Guy as well as Prince Michel de Ligne, his wife Princess Eleonora and their children Princess Alix and Prince Henri (all of them descendants of Princess Alix of Luxembourg), were also among the guests of the wedding.

Lastly because many people are always interested in these matters, Princess Amélia's dress was a creation of British designer Emilia Wickstead and her diamond tiara came from her mother's family, the House of Ligne. For more guests and information, have a look at The Royal Resource.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Schloss Biebrich

Photos: Luxarazzi
Schloss Biebrich, or Biebrich Palace, owes its existence to Count Georg August Samuel of Nassau-Idstein. Upon his appointment to the official role of prince in 1688, he decided to expand his domestic situation to better reflect his new status.

Count Georg August Samuel commissioned architect Julius Ludwig Rothwell to construct his new Baroque masterpiece in Biebrich. He had originally relocated from Idstein to Wiesbaden, the modern-day capital of Hesse, but he later moved his seat of power to the nearby Biebrich, which today is a part of Wiesbaden, in the Rhine Valley.

The palace was completed in 1702, although a second structure, identical to the first, was added in 1706. The first part of the palace, known as the West Pavilion, became Count Georg August Samuel’s stomping-ground, while the East Pavilion was reserved for his wife Henriette Dorothea, born Princess of Oettingen-Oettingen.

In 1707, the count commissioned architect Johann Maximilian von Welsch to unite the West Pavilion with the East Pavilion. The result joined each pavilion with a long gallery that ended in a rotunda. Inside this rotunda was the count’s ballroom, while a private chapel lay beneath the ballroom.

The style of Schloss Biebrich, built as it was at the beginning of the eighteenth century, reflects Baroque architecture at its height. A grand staircase in the West Pavilion, with its large painting of Count Georg August Samuel and his family, still hints at the original richness of décor. Speaking of paintings, another feature of Biebrich Palace is the elaborate fresco featuring Aeneas at Mount Olympus on the ceiling of the rotunda that joins West Pavilion and East Pavilion.

Other Baroque features include the rich color that adorns the outside of the palace, as well as the general opulence inside. The count’s status called for elaborate state rooms in the new palace, another attribute of Baroque style.

Count Georg August Samuel and Henriette Dorothea had twelve children, three of them sons, but sadly none of the sons survived childhood. As a result, the count’s death from smallpox in 1721 ended his family line, and the title passed to the Dukes of Nassau-Usingen. The new successor, Prince Karl of Nassau-Usingen chose Schloss Biebrich as his primary residence, and in 1734, he commissioned architect Friedrich Joachim Michael Stengel to add two more wings to the burgeoning palace.

The main construction ended around 1750, and no further changes were made until landscape architect Friedrich Ludwig von Schell designed the gardens in 1817. Additionally, a large staircase descending to the Rhine was added in 1824.

Schloss Biebrich remained the primary residence of the Dukes of Nassau until the construction of the Wiesbaden City Palace, or Wiesbaden Stadtschloss. At that point, the Biebrich Palace became the summer residence of the Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilberg dukes.

In 1890, Duke Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg became Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and at that point Schloss Biebrich passed into the history of the Luxembourg royals. The palace remained a family retreat until 1935, when Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg officially sold the palace to Prussia. It suffered damage during World War II and then fell into disrepair for several decades. The palace was not restored until the early 1980s. At that time, the State of Hesse took over renovations and made Biebrich Palace the current home of Hesse’s historic preservation agency. The palace garden is currently open to the public, and rooms within the palace itself may be rented for conferences or other events.

Princely Chocolate

Photo: Daniel Ospelt / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Things I never knew existed, Liechtensteiner Fürstenhütchen. Literally prince's or princely little hats or cones, Fürstenhütchen are delicate chocolates filled with melting hazelnut cream made by Swiss chocolatiers according to an original Liechtenstein recipe. Traditionally made out of milk chocolate, starting tomorrow there is also a version with dark chocolate available, and Prince Hans-Adam II was one of the first ones to receive these new sweets from Daniel Herzog of the Hedaco International AG which produces the chocolates. While Schloss Vaduz is usually featured on the chocolate boxes, there is also one available with Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie on it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Americans in Liechtenstein

Photo: Roland Korner / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
This week, a group of congressional staff is on a visit to Liechtenstein to learn about the Principality and its people. Among a bunch of other things, the employees of the United States Congress were received by Hereditary Prince Alois at Schloss Vaduz where they obviously enjoyed a drink and had a chat. (At least judging by the picture above.)

Source: Vaterland