Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (21): Vine Leaves Tiara vs. Congo Diamond Tiara

Summer break might be over - at least judging by all the news we had during the last two days - but our summer series isn't yet! It's Wednesday night and as such time for tiara match number 21. But you know what's up first, a look back: Having to make the call between Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's Emerald Peacock Tiara and Princess Joan's Diamond Tiara, the majority of you went for the latter. And you know what? I think it might be becoming something of a dark horse of this competition. What do you think? Leave us a comment below!
And of course the main event of the post is coming right your way: Match number 21 between the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara and the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara. Both of them traditional wedding tiaras of the Grand Ducal Family simply follow the links before for more information. Did they help you to make up your mind? If they did, let us know...

Voting closes on Saturday night.

Grand Duke Meets EU Defense Ministers

Photo: Charles Caratini / SIP
Grand Duke Henri received in audience today the Ministers of Defense of the European Union or at least many of them, as I notice at least one missing. The ministers attended an informal meeting in Luxembourg today on the occasion of the country's EU presidency.

Grand Duke Henri Meets with NATO Secretary General

Photo: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen / Cour grand-ducale
Today, Grand Duke Henri received in audience NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is in Luxembourg on a brief visit. The Secretary General also participated in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, during which the former expressed gratitude for the country's participation in supporting NATO military activities and particularly for the commitment to military technology.

During the visit. Secretary General Stoltenberg will also meet with Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn, Minister of Justice Félix Braz, and other parliamentary members.

A little more about Secretary General Stoltenberg's visit here. Still waiting on a photo from the audience with Grand Duke Henri. It will be added if it's made available.

Grand Duke Henri Visits the Exhibition "Wëlcom dôheem"

Today, Grand Duke Henri visited an exhibition with Minister of Culture Maggy Nagel. The exhibition, entitled "Wëlcom dôheem", was held at the Grand Ducal Palace and focused on what occurred during the time that Grand Duchess Charlotte left Luxembourg due to the Nazi occupation. Among the exhibits are recordings of the speeches that Grand Duchess Charlotte delivered over the BBC from her location in London.

A little more about the exhibition here. There's also a photo at the link, but it's being troublesome. Fingers crossed it can be added later.

EDIT: Spoke too soon. Photo now added.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Royal Gathering in Liechtenstein Coming Up

Each year, the heads of state of the German-speaking countries gather for an informal meeting. While the heads of state of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - those countries where German is the primary language of the majority of the population - have had these kinds of gatherings since 2004 (each year in a different country), last year was the first time that the heads of state of Luxembourg and Belgium - countries that either have a minority of people who speak German as a first language (Belgium) or where German is one of the countries three official languages (Luxembourg) - were also invited. 

This year is no different and so Hereditary Prince Alois will welcome the heads of state of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg (Grand Duke Henri) and Belgium (King Philippe) on September 17 in Vaduz. This means we will likely also see Hereditary Princess Sophie, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Queen Mathilde.

At Home With the Princely Family

The Princely Family has been featured quite a bit on Austrian TV as of late. In addition, to the interview with Princess Marie, there was another broadcast again by ORF to feature both Prince Hans-Adam and Hereditary Prince Alois. It inludes parts of a documentary of Liechtenstein including footage from the wedding of the hereditary princely couple as well as an interview with the Hereditary Prince. For example, Hereditary Prince Alois tells, "Of course it is difficult when you are the acting head of state to find enough time for your children. But at the same time I'm quite lucky that I work in the same place as I live so I always tried to make room inbetween to spend some time with my children." The full broadcast is available here.

Princess Nora Signs a Special Olympics Agreement

On Monday, Princess Nora was in Vaduz to sign a performance agreement between the government of Liechtenstein and the Special Olympics Liechtenstein Foundation. Marlies Amann-Marxer, the Minister of Infrastructure, Environment and Sport, signed on behalf of the government. The Special Olympics Liechtenstein Foundation was originally established in 2009 to promote disabled athletes from Liechtenstein at sporting events, both national and international.

Among its purposes, the newly signed agreement regulates the cooperative relationship between the government and the Foundation. This proved to be necessary, because recent changes in Liechtenstein law transferred disability insurance benefits to the national sports funding budget.

No photos at present, but little more information about the performance agreement here.

Princess Marie Presents Princely Wine Estate

Photo: ORF
Princess Marie, as in the wife of Prince Constantin, recently gave an interview to Austrian TV station ORF about the wines and wine growing estates of the Princely Family. She also showed the camera around the family's four hectare large vineyard in Liechtenstein as well as their restaurant Torkel. To watch the interview, have a look at ORF.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (20): Emerald Peacock Tiara vs. Princess Joan's Diamond Tiara

Let's end our weekend in sparkly fashion, shall we? (Yes, that's a purely rhetorical question.) Heading off against each other are two tiaras I wouldn't have necessarily expected to see in the second round of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race. But first, let's have a look back...

In the last edition, we saw the Floral Bandeau Tiara trying to take a stance against Queen Victoria's Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara. And while the diamond sparkler once worn by Grand Duchess Charlotte gathered some 22.22 percent of votes, it didn't really stand a chance against the tiara that was worn by Princess Sibilla once almost three years ago and is (co-)owned by her mother.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, we have two tiaras facing off against each other today, I wouldn't have necessarily seen in the second round both beating either better known or bigger pieces in the first one. So I'm really curious which one will win your affection today! Will it be Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's Emerald Peacock Tiara? Or Princess Joan's Diamond Tiara? Vote here and tell us below, why you chose the tiara you voted for!

Voting closes on Wednesday night.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape

This one, I really want to visit sometime (preferably soon). The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is located in the Czech Republic's Southern Moravia not too far from the borders to both Slovakia and Austria. The massively large landscape park was created and once owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein and centres around the two castles (and towns) of Lednice and Valtice, or Eisgrub and Feldsberg in German. Fun fact: The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is over 283 square kilometres large and thus almost twice as big as the Principality of Liechtenstein. (You might recall that the family for many years did not have close ties to the country that bore their name as it was legal technicality for them to be awarded certain benefits within the Holy Roman Empire.)

The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape
The Princely Family used to own large estates all throughout the Habsburg empire. Lednice and Valtice, however, weren't just another two country estates, they were the family's main residences. After first settling in the area in 1249, the family used to following 700 or so years landscaping and building it into a unique cultural landscape, maybe even the world's biggest park often nicknamed "The Garden of Europe".

In 1249, King Wenzeslaus of Bohemia  gave Lednice as a fiefdom to Heinrich of Liechtenstein. Through clever marriage politics and being awarded with other fiefs, the family enhanced their properties in the area. Many, many years later, in 1608, the family made nearby Valtice their primary home with Lednice becoming the summer residence. (We'll have a closer look at both of these castles in future editions of Luxarazzi 101. For now, let's have a closer look at what they created around Valtice and Lednice.)

Photo: Czech Tourism
The realisation of what today is known as the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape began in the 17th century with the creation of avenues connecting Valtice with other parts of the estate. More avenues and paths were created during the 18th century, providing vistas and rides in accordance with the ideas of Renaissance style. The early years of the 19th century saw the the transformation of the park into the English concept of a designed park under Prince Johann I. The design of the park was strongly influenced by the work of Lancelot Brown at Stowe and elsewhere in England. 

Enormous landscaping projects were undertaken under the supervision of Johann's estate manager. To avoid the yearly flooding of the park by the Thaya river, a large lake - up to two and a half metre deep with islands and such was - created. The soil was used to raise the level of the Lednice Park by another one and a half metres. Smaller parks in English landscape design, the so-called Englische Anlagen, were created around the three large ponds. 

Photo: Czech Tourism
A number of romantic elements were also introduced into the landscape, the work of the architects joseph Hardtmuth, Josef Kornhausel, and Franz Engel. All over the park, smaller buildings and status are scattered. There are chapels, hunting lodges, temples, a minarett, a colonnade and more. The park features both native and exotic plants. Both Prince Johann I and his brother Prince Alois I had seeds from foreign places, both Europe as well as North America, brought to the area where they were grown in a arboretum. Some 32,000 new plants were thus introduced to the area. Their successors Alois II and Johann II continued with the plant breeding. By 1903, Lednice housed the biggest orchid and cycads in all of Europe.

The Liechtenstein family remained the owners of Lednice and Valtice until the end of World War II, when the estates were confiscated by the Czechoslovak state based on the Beneš decrees and all Liechtensteiners - not just the Princely Family - being considered German. After the fall of the Iron Curtain,the family made renewed legal attempts at restitution, which have all been turned down by the current owner of the property, the Czech state. Only in 2009, the Czech Republic and the Principality took up diplomatic relations again after more than 60 years due to expropriation of all Liechtenstein nationals after World War II. Already in 1996, the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.