Thursday, July 30, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Alois of Liechtenstein & Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria

Two of the most influential historic figures in the Liechtenstein princely family never reigned, but nevertheless became the ancestors of the current ruling line through a unique set of circumstances designed to save the family fortunes.  They were among the first members of the Princely Family to live in the country full-time, and their marriage brought significant attention, glamour, and even a little controversy to the Principality. Today we'll be looking into the lives of Prince Alois of Liechtenstein and Archduchess Elisabeth Amalie of Austria, the parents of Franz Josef II.

Born on June 17, 1869, in Hollenegg, Austria, Prince Alois was the second son and fourth child of Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein (grandson of Prince Johann I of Liechtenstein) and Princess Henriette of Liechtenstein (daughter of Prince Alois II of Liechtenstein).  Alois was born and raised in Vienna, as were many members of the Liechtenstein princely family at that time. He attended the Schottengymnasium, a prestigious Catholic primary and secondary school in Vienna, where Alois was known as quiet, studious, and a bit of a bookworm.

Alois in his military days
Upon completion of his education, Alois joined the Austrian Army as part of the Imperial and Royal Uhlans, a division of the cavalry. He served as a captain and later a lieutenant colonel in Slovenia and Hungary, continuing on during World War I when he earned the respect of his troops.

Elisabeth was born in Reichenau, Lower Austria, on July 7, 1878.  She was the younger of two daughters of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria (brother of Emperor Franz Joseph) and his third wife, Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal.  Elisabeth's sister, Maria Annunziata, was two years older. Elisabeth also had several half-siblings from her father's second marriage, the most notable being Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose murder sparked the First World War. Elisabeth's mother fulfilled most of the official duties of Empress Elisabeth at court, after the latter avoided Vienna following the death of her son Rudolf in 1889.  As such, Elisabeth grew up at the Imperial Court and was present at many of its functions prior to her marriage.

Elisabeth (r) with Maria Annunziata
Elisabeth, along with her mother and sister, were the only members of the Imperial family present at the July 1900 wedding of her half-brother Franz Ferdinand to Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. Maria Theresa was one of the few Austrian Imperials to support the morganatic marriage. Ironically, the scandal caused by Franz Ferdinand's marriage would have an unexpectedly positive effect on Elisabeth's choice for a spouse.

It is unknown how Elisabeth and Alois first met, but given Alois' presence in Vienna and Elisabeth's prominence at the Imperial Court, it was likely the two first became acquainted at a court function. Rumors of a Liechtenstein-Austrian engagement began to appear in the press during the middle of 1902, when it was reported that a marriage was being arranged between Elisabeth and Johannes of Liechtenstein, Alois' younger brother.

At around the same time, the press was eager to set Elisabeth up with at least one other Catholic prince. In August 1902, Austrian newspaper Neues Wiener Tagblatt reported that an engagement between the princess and her distant cousin, Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará, was forthcoming.  Pedro was the son of Isabel, the heiress to the defunct Brazilian imperial throne. Pedro later made a morganatic marriage to a Czech countess.  

The engagement between Alois and Elisabeth was announced on November 8, 1902, at Schloss Laxenburg, one of the summer palaces of the Imperial family.  Prince Johann II gave permission for the marriage a few days later as a matter of course.

Alois and Elisabeth at the time of their engagement
There was naturally concern at first that the marriage would be unequal, being that Alois had long held Austrian citizenship. Marriage to one of Elisabeth uncle's subjects would have rendered the union unequal in terms of rank. This would have meant Elisabeth would be forced to give up her Imperial status.  Maria Theresa was prepared to use her good relationship with Emperor Franz Joseph to convince him that as Alois did come from a regnant house, and so the marriage would be equal. For his part, Alois had already planned to smooth the way by relinquishing his Austrian citizenship in favor of Liechtenstein citizenship granted by Johann II.

Emperor Franz Joseph, however, was delighted that his niece wished to marry an actual prince following the scandal of Franz Ferdinand's controversial marriage. Franz Joseph gave his blessing for the union and was even present at Laxenburg when the engagement was announced.

Alois and Elisabeth married in Vienna on April 20, 1903, with the Emperor in attendance.  The couple honeymooned at Schloss Feldburg in Lower Austria, the main home of then ruling Prince Johann II.  Johann was reportedly so excited about his cousin's marriage to a member of the Imperial family that he "sent the bride the most magnificent presents."  Among these gifts were an exquisite diamond tiara in an arabesque shape. The tiara features two solitaires, one in the center of a diamond rosette and the second at the top of the tiara. The current whereabouts of this tiara are unknown.  

The couple's first child, the future Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein, was born at Schloss Frauenthal on August 16, 1906.  Alois and Elisabeth named him Franz Josef, in honor of the Emperor and uncle who helped ensure the marriage was considered equal. The elder Franz Joseph stood godfather for his grand nephew and namesake.

Aloys and Elisabeth with baby Franz Josef
Alois and Elisabeth had seven other children after Franz Josef:

- Maria Theresia (1908-1973)
- Karl Alfred (1910-1985)
- Georg Hartmann (1911-1998)
- Ulrich Dietmar (1913-1978)
- Marie Henriette (1914-2011)
- Alois Heinrich (1917-1967)
- Heinrich Hartneid (1920-1993)

The couple spent most of their married life raising their family at castles in Hungary, Austria and what is now the Czech Republic, including Frauenthal, Velké Losiny, and Stuhlweissenburg. Prior to World War I, Elisabeth was known for her love of automobiles. This was considered unusual at the time due to her gender, the newness of the technology, and the reluctance of much of the rest of the Imperial family to take interest in cars.  So great was her love of automobiles that she converted most of the stables at her home in Hungary to garages, and hired chauffeurs and mechanics to replace stable hands to care for her 31 automobiles.

Following World War I, Alois and Elisabeth provided financial assistance to their Habsburg relatives left destitute by the conflict.  By 1923, the princely family had weathered a significant decrease in their Czechoslovakian holdings. What was more, the succession laws meant that the family faced a long series of inheritance taxes. Ruling Prince Johann II was 82, his brother and direct heir Franz was 69, and the next heir Franz de Paula (Alois' older brother) was 65.  Alois was third in line and 53. The potential for four rapid deaths of heads of the family would have put the princely fortunes under further financial strain.

Elisabeth, Alois, her sister, their children and in-laws
A radical solution was proposed that would eliminate most of these death duties. The status as head of the family and owner of the fortune would bypass Franz, Franz de Paula, and Alois, passing directly to Franz Josef upon Johann's death. While the elder Franz insisted on having his chance to rule, Franz de Paula and Alois also agreed to remove themselves from the line of succession. Alois officially renounced the princely throne on February 26, 1923.

Elisabeth and Alois moved permanently to Vaduz in 1944. Elisabeth's sister Maria Annunziata also joined the family in Vaduz, where she lived until her death in 1961. Following the death of her mother in 1944, Elisabeth inherited the Habsburg Fringe Tiara. The tiara has been worn by at least two princely family brides as well as by Hereditary Princess Sophie for major events.

Alois died following a bout of influenza on March 17, 1955, in Vaduz. The 85-year-old Prince had been sick for about a week. Alois seemed to be recovering from his illness when he unexpectedly took a turn for the worse.  Five years later, Elisabeth died at the age of 82 on March 13, 1960, also in Vaduz. The two were buried beside one another in the Cathedral of St. Florin's in Vaduz.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (11): Floral Button Tiara vs. Grand Duchess Adélaïde Tiara

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race is coming to you early this mid-week: Already on Tuesday night, you can decide which one of the following tiaras is your favourite but first, let's have a look back: The Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara it was, your winner of the last match of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race, winning against the mystery tiara Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wore at the wedding of Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
And cause the Grand Ducal Family apparently loves themselves a good tiara mystery, here's another one for you: The tiara then Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore to a wedding ball in Germany during the 1980's, which we are going to call the Floral Button Tiara (though it might not be a tiara after all as the floral buttons look remarkably similar to the pendants of a necklace the Grand Duchess owns), vs. the Grand Duchess Adélaïde Tiara full of (known) history.

Get your vote in early and tell us, which one is your favourite and why?
Voting closes on Saturday night, Lux time.

Princess Nora at the Special Olympics

Yesterday, Princess Nora paid a visit to the Liechtenstein Special Olympics football (soccer) team after their tied game with the Czech team. Princess Nora in currently in Los Angeles to support the athletes competing in the Special Olympics.

The Liechtenstein Ambassador to the United States, Claudia Fritsche, is updating her Twitter feed with information about the athletes and the Games.

Here's some information about Princess Nora at the Opening Ceremony.

For good measure, here's a photo of Princess Nora greeting LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Photo Fun with Félix, Claire and Amalia

Photo: Dailymotion / Point de Vue
A few weeks ago and again now, French magazine Point de Vue featured stories about Prince Félix and Priness Claire, their daughter Amalia as well as their home, the Château les Crostes in southern France. Turns out there is also a video of the photo session fun the Luxembourgish trio had... Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Prince Philipp and His Magenta Socks Give Interview.

Photo: Michael Rausch
So, looking for new news occasionally brings up old news. As these ones aren't too old... Prince Philipp recently gave an interview to Austrian magazine Format. While the interview revolves around the usual topics (LGT, finance, etc.), the younger brother of Prince Hans-Adam did rock some magenta socks while giving his interview. More pictures of the socks and the prince at APA.

A Liechtenstein Lesson with Prince Rudolf

Summer break really is here. I don't think we have had actual news for about two weeks but, well, that's how our summers here on Luxarazzi go (and we always have the Tiara Race to keep us busy). And while it isn't strictly news, I recently stumbled over the following Youtube videos...
Photo: Youtube
You might recall that Prince Rudolf and his Turkish-born wife Princess Tılsım attended the Swiss Turkish Economic Forum late last year. During the event, the youngest son of Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein gave a speech about family businesses, specifically his family's business. With it came a short lesson about Liechtenstein history, both the family and the country, as well as - at the end of the second video - a lovely wedding photograph of "my dear wife Tılsım", the Liechtenstein family's "most recent Turkish acquisition and some organic growth" as Prince Rudolf described her with a wink.

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (10): Danish Wedding Tiara vs. Congo Diamond Tiara

Poor Oval Amethyst Tiara, you could think, (all too understandably) never standing any real chance against the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara, your winner of the last match of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race, who took home the win with a whopping 86.46 percent of votes! Will it be as decisive today?
Facing off against each other in the tenth match of the first round of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race are the mystery that was the tiara Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wore to the wedding festivities of Queen Margrethe of Denmark - hence known as Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's Danish Wedding Tiara, likely a diamond and emerald piece (a little more info here) - and the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara. Which one wins your affection?

Note #1: As this discussion often comes up when it comes to the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara due to the country in its name and Belgium's history with it... There's nothing pretty about the mining and acquisition of gems through history, from long ago to the present day, but these diamonds are not what you would define as blood diamonds. The concept of conflict resources, including diamonds, only started to emerge in the 1990's.

Note #2: Voting closes on Tuesday night, Lux time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (9): Oval Amethyst Tiara vs. Vine Leaves Tiara

Who would have thought that: The Nassau Floral Tiara out in the first round of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race losing against Princess Joan's Diamond Tiara. You keep surprising me, ladies and gentlemen! (Not that I'm not for Princess Joan's tiara but it keeps surprising me that such a well-known piece like the Nassau Floral Tiara would lose against a virtually unknown one.)
Today we have two relatively well-known tiaras facing each other: The Oval Amethysts Tiara - more about it in our post about the Grand Ducal Tiara Collection - against the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara. Not a difficult choice pour moi, what about you?

Voting closes on Saturday night, Lux time!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (8): Nassau Floral Tiara vs. Joan's Diamond Tiara

Small but beautiful: In what I think was the closest tiara match yet, the rather small Emerald Peacock Tiara took home the win over the massive Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Tiara with 52.66 percent or 257 vs. 231 votes. It seems that not everyone prefers to live by 'Go big or go home' though admittedly I can understand those who think that a tiara bigger than the head is just a little to big.
Up against each other today are two rather similar pieces: The Nassau Floral Tiara, worn by Archduchess Adelaide on the left and a favourite piece of Princess Alexandra, and Princess Joan's diamond tiara worn by her daughter, Princess Charlotte, on the right above. Charlotte is a cousin of Grand Duke Henri and Joan the wife of the late Prince Charles. (A little more about them in our 101 about their son and brother, the occassionally featured Prince Robert.) More info on both tiaras in our post about the Grand Ducal Tiara Collection.

Remember, this is a three tiara match week, so voting closes on Wednesday night, Lux time.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Luxarazzi Tiara Race (7): Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Tiara vs. Emerald Peacock Tiara

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner: Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara took home the win in the second non-closest tiara match of the Luxarazzi Tiara Race thus far. It beat the Aquamarine Tiara by 77.97 percent (or 368) of your votes.
Time for the next match: The Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Tiara, we introduced to you earlier today, worn by Princess Antonia above against the Emerald Peacock Tiara, the necklace turned tiara originally belonging to Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and worn by her daughter Archduchess Marie-Astrid above. Massive vs. dainty - which one gets your vote? (Note: As not much else is going on, we're are making this a three tiara match week, so this post was published on Saturday evening and voting will already close on Monday night, shortly after 9:30pm Luxembourg time.)