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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Grand Ducal Couple to Celebrate the Netherlands

Even though the coming weeks and months will be some quieter ones as the Grand Ducal Family has gone and the Princely Family apparently has already been on holiday, there don't seem to be major chances of a Luxembourger coming close to winning the Tour de France and Liechtenstein's national day only comes up in about a month, there are a few occassions happening this summer that will still bring out some royals. 

On August 4th, there will be a World War I commemoration taking place near Liège in Belgium and towards the ending of the month, on August 30th to be exact, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa are scheduled to attend an event in Maastricht to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Curiously enough, there was some rewriting of Luxembourgish history going on by the event organisers who somehow thought that Luxembourg was once part of the Netherlands though it was only ruled by the same person, the King-Grand Duke, until 1890. Other guests at the event hosted by the King and Queen of the Netherlands include the King and Queen of the Belgians as well as the President of Germany and his partner. 

Source: Telegraaf

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grand Duke Congratulates Juncker Once Again

After already congratulating Luxembourg's former Prime Minister on his nomination as President of the European Commission by the European Union's heads of government, Grand Duke Henri sent yet another congratulatory note to Jean-Claude Juncker now that he was actually elected President of the European Commission.

Monsieur le Président,

Dorénavant actée, votre élection à la présidence à la Commission européenne constitue une profonde satisfaction personnelle. Celle-ci est partagée par les Luxembourgeois qui mesurent a portée de l’engagement européen pour notre pays.

La Grande-Duchesse et moi-même formons des vœux de réussite dans l’accomplissement de votre haute mission: puissiez-vous avec votre collège rapprocher l’Union européenne de ses citoyens par des projets concrets et ambitieux et contribuer ainsi à faire l’aimer l’Europe.

Speaking of a "profound personal satisfaction" shared by the people of Luxembourg, the Grand Duke wished Mr Juncker all the best saying, "May you, together with your colleagues, bring together the European Union and its citizens, through concrete and ambitious project, and thereby contribute to make them love Europe." Jean-Claude Juncker is the third Luxembourgish President of the European Commission after Gaston Thorn (1981-1985) and Jacques Santer (1995-1999) showing the important role little Luxembourg, one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community, the EU's very first predecessor, plays in the European Union.

Grand Ducal Family Opens Home to Public

Photo: José-Noël Doumont / tous droits réservés
It's that time of the year again: The Grand Ducal Family has officially gone on holiday and while they are in the south of France (or anywhere around this world, really), doors of the palais grand-ducal are open to the general public. Despite only being open over a few weeks every summer, the official town residence of the Grand Ducal Family is one of the main tourist attractions of Luxembourg. If you should be in or near the Grand Duchy in the coming weeks until September 7th, make good us of the opportunity. Last year one part of Team Luxarazzi did exactly that.

The palais is accessible via guided tours available in Luxembourgish, German, French, Dutch and English on all days of the week except for Wednesdays. Admissions for adults is €7.50s, children pay half. All proceeds go to the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse. More information is available on the website of the Luxembourg City Tourist Office.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Else Went On

In the Styrian municipality of Trofaiach in the Austrian district of Leoben there stands a so-called Stockschloss also known as the Oberdorf castle complex. And even though I have no idea why it is literally called "cane castle", I can tell you that it is owned by the noble Mayr von Melnhof family and is used as a venue. Why I'm telling you all of this? Prince Hans-Adam recently visited to talk about his book "The State in the Third Millenium" and that is not the most exciting of news. In more standard news, Hereditary Prince Alois received the letters of credence of two new ambassadors from Switzerland and Austria on July 4th.