Saturday, November 22, 2014

Princess Nora at a Christmas Bazaar

Photo: Bernardo Perez / El Pais
On Friday, Princess Nora participated in a Christmas bazaar in Madrid, El Rastrillo de Nuevo Futuro. The proceeds of this bazaar go toward supporting Nuevo Futuro, a partnership of organizations and programs that seek to provide family and social development for at-risk children. Among the programs is Fundación Educación Activa, which works to reach children with special education needs and assist families who do not have ready access to available educational programs. Princess Nora is the President of Fundación Educación Activa and has been a part of the annual Christmas bazaar for thirteen years.

This year's market is located in the Glass Pavilion of the Casa de Campo Exhibition Centre and runs from November 21st to 30th. It spans seventy booths and 8000 square metres, and is expected to draw around 30,000 shoppers.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Stadtschloss Wiesbaden

All photos: Luxarazzi
The neo-classical Stadtschloss Wiesbaden, or Wiesbaden City Palace, was only completed in 1841, but the site on which it sits represents centuries of influence for the Nassau family. After its completion, the nineteenth-century structure was the primary residence of the Dukes of Nassau. It survived the Revolutions of 1848, as well as the annexation of the Duchy of Nassau by Prussia in 1866. Perhaps more importantly, most of the palace survived both World War I and World War II, although the latter left significant damage. Today, Stadtschloss Wiesbaden is the seat of the Landtag (or State Parliament) of Hesse.

During the Middle Ages, a castle sat on the site that is now Wiesbaden City Palace, and the Counts of Nassau established residency in that city in the year 1236. History records that the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II actually celebrated the Feast of Pentecost in the earlier castle. The castle, as well as the city of Wiesbaden, were destroyed after a 1242 conflict between Friedrich II and the pope. This was not the first time Wiesbaden faced destruction, and it would not be the last. In fact, the city was destroyed and reconstructed at least three times during its history. Later devastation would occur during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), by which time Count Philipp III of Nassau-Weilburg had commissioned the New City Palace. History indicates that the palace survived, in part at least, the Thirty Years’ War, but by early the eighteenth century it fell victim to decay and disuse.

The Kavaliershaus facade, adjoining the Right Wing
and located directly across from the Schloßplatz.
The shifting influences within the Nassau family directly affected the fortunes of Wiesbaden and the palace located there. The Nassau-Weilburg line, for a time, gave way to the Nassau-Idstein line, with Count Georg August Samuel at its head, and while he recognized Wiesbaden as his capital he established his main residence at the newly constructed Schloss Biebrich, just outside the city. It would not be until the early part of the nineteenth century that Wiesbaden would see a reconstructed royal residence.

In 1816, the new Duke of Nassau, born Friedrich Wilhelm of Nassau-Weilburg, arrived with big plans for Wiesbaden. The city underwent an extensive round of new construction, including a palace. In spite of initial recommendations to locate the palace in a more isolated area, Friedrich Wilhelm decided he wanted his new palace to be in a central location, so he could experience living amongst his people. As a result, Stadtschloss Wiesbaden ended up being in the Schlossplatz, or Palace Square, which is the center of the market district. Such a location, however, came with its challenges: the nearby buildings are, in fact, very nearby, and the size of the palace reflected the limited available space. Granted, the Stadtschloss is unmistakable as a palace, but it does not have quite the expansive grandeur of other such buildings.

At the same time, Stadtschloss Wiesbaden fits into the area without overpowering it. Friedrich Wilhelm commissioned the architect Georg Moller in 1835, and construction continued until 1841. Sadly, the Duke would not live to see his vision completed, as he died suddenly in 1839 and was succeeded by his son Adolph I. The new Duke of Nassau, who would later also become Grand Duke of Luxembourg, moved into Stadtschloss Wiesbaden as his winter residence, reserving Schloss Biebrich as his summer residence.

Conflict broke out in 1848 (the Revolution of 1848), and a crowd of 30,000 people marched to the Stadtschloss in Wiesbaden and insisted that the Duke of Nassau affirm a bill of rights for citizens. Adolph was in Berlin when this occurred, but he promptly left by train. Upon arriving in Wiesbaden, he returned to the palace on foot and without any guard, a quality that earned respect from the people of Nassau. From the balcony of the Stadtschloss he calmed the citizens and agreed to their demands.

Adolph I’s reign came to a close in 1866, when the Duchy of Nassau was absorbed into Prussia, and later the German Empire. The palace came into the possession of the German Kaiser Wilhelm I, whose grandson Wilhelm II would continue to use Stadtschloss Wiesbaden as one of his summer residence.

The collapse of the German monarchy in 1918 left the palace without its expected occupants, but the building continued to serve a valuable purpose following World War I. Between 1918 and 1919, the Stadtschloss housed the Workers' and Soldiers' Council. During the Occupation of the Rhineland by the Allies, the palace was home, first, to the headquarters of the French Occupation Armies and, in 1925, to the headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine. In 1930, Allied forces withdrew from Germany, and Stadtschloss Wiesbaden became a museum under the Preußische Staatliche Schlösserverwaltung, or Prussian State Administration of Palaces.

The main entrance of the Hessian Landtag.
The palace’s peaceful new role would not last long, with World War II already on the horizon. Military District (or Wehrkreis) XI of the Wehrmacht used the Stadtschloss in Wiesbaden as its General Headquarters. In 1940, following Germany’s success against France, Wehrkreis XI grew to absorb other regions, including the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. After Germany’s defeat in 1945, the palace became the headquarters for the U.S. Army. By the end of the war, however, Stadtschloss Wiesbaden had lost much of its former glory. The U.S. Army moved into what still stood among the ruins of the building, with one of its entire wings having been destroyed during fighting.

The State of Hesse was created in 1946, and the new government took possession of the Stadtschloss. The palace has, from that time, housed the Hessian Landtag. Significant reconstruction has taken place over the subsequent decades. A Plenary Chamber was added in the courtyard in 1959, while the state parliament continues to use the historic rooms – with many of the original items that survived the war still in them – for receptions. Some of them are also open to the public.

By the 1990s, the Plenary Chamber was looking outdated, so the State floated plans for a modern facility made of transparent glass. Public outcries about both cost and suitability brought the plans to a quick demise, and the structure that was built instead reflects the stylistic character of the palace and the other buildings around the Schlossplatz. The new debating hall for the Hessian Parliament opened in 2008.

The layout of Stadtschloss Wiesbaden.
The architect Georg Moller had designed Stadtschloss Wiesbaden in the neoclassical style. The design of the palace is fairly simple, at least in the sense of abandoning some of the excess ornamentation of earlier eras. At the same time, it embraces an overall intention of elevated elegance. By intention, the exterior architecture of the palace fits the design of nearby buildings in the Schlossplatz. The original three-level structure was planned around two primary wings that are united in the corner with a half-cylindrical main entrance, known as the Small Rotunda. This entrance is topped with a balcony. A third wing that is angled between the two main wings contains the palace's main staircase and the Dome Hall, as well as the Mittelbau, or Middle Building, which houses the Music Room. The Middle Building creates an interior courtyard, and two of its sides are connected to the other wings of the palace with a glass-enclosed conservatory. Due to the layout, traveling among the palace's 145 rooms requires extensive walking.

Connected to the Right Wing of Stadtschloss Wiesbaden are two further palace buildings: the Kavaliershaus (Gentleman's House) and the Wilhelmsbau (Wilhelm's building). The former had been constructed as a commercial building in the 1820s, before the palace's construction, but Friedrich Wilhelm purchased it to be part of the planned palace. Under the Dukes of Nassau, it was used as the Majordomo's offices. Today, it functions as the primary entrance to the Landtag. The Wilhelmsbau was built after the Prussian acquisition and became a military hospital, named in honor of the Kaiser. It too is part of the Landtag today.

The interior rooms of Wiesbaden City Palace still reflect the luxury it once exuded as a royal residence. Exotic woods have been used throughout, and statues and gold-plated bronze candlesticks sit along the lengthy corridors of the two main wings. Many antique painted wallpapers still line the palace walls. The only wing that still retains original décor, however, is the left wing. The interior of the right wing faced total destruction during World War II.

Within the left wing, the Red Salon on the first floor remains beautifully intact. It is decorated with red silk wallpaper, stucco marble, and ornate frescos on the ceiling. Next door is the Yellow Salon, once the breakfast room for the Dukes of Nassau; it is similar in style to the Red Salon, but it features yellow instead of red.

The third wing, placed diagonally to the other two wings, has barrel ceilings and statues of ancient gods. What was at one time the dining hall is now the Dome Hall and holds skylights, as well as a chandelier that once hung in Schloss Biebrich. The glass conservatory that connects the Mittelbau to the other palace wings originally held the Duke of Nassau's prized collection of exotic plants. The Music Room within the Mittelbau is the largest room within the palace, and is currently used as a concert room. It also functions as a foyer, when the Landtag is in session.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Grand Duke Henri Receives Ambassadors

On Friday, November 14th, Grand Duke Henri received five ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary in audience, each presenting his credentials at the Grand Ducal Palace. (In this case, no women were among the received ambassadors.) The dignitaries were, in succession: His Excellency Dr. Mark William Christopher Higgie from Australia, His Excellency Mr. Abdulrahman Sulaiman Alahmed from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Mr. Dharar Abdulrazzaq Razzooqi from the State of Kuwait, His Excellency Mr. Amar Belani from the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, and His Excellency Mr. Nopadol Gunivabool from the Kingdom of Thailand.

The title of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary indicates the highest ranking ambassadorial position, an individual who is the primary diplomatic representation for a country. Traditionally, the role belonged to the direct ambassador from one sovereign or head of state to another, Today it generally refers to the permanent ambassador serving on a foreign mission.

Pictures from Brazil

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie are on an economic mission to Brazil this week. And while pictures are still a little hard to come by, there are a handful on the website of the government

What they've exactly been up to? On Monday and yesterday - Tuesday that is - the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple and their delegation including the Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna, visited São Paulo. On Monday, they met Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer to discuss political and economic matters as well as the bilateral relations between Brazil and Luxembourg. In addition, they also held talks with executives of the BTG Pactual, Safra, Bradesco and Banco Original banks. Yesterday, they attended an economic seminar organised by Luxembourg for Finance, bringing together more than 220 professionals in finance.

Luxarazzi 101: Diane von Furstenberg

I haven't done maths or anything but Diane von Furstenberg certainly is one of the Hereditary Grand Duchess' preferred designers. From the iconic wrap dress via a tweed dress and jacket combination to a lace evening gown, Princess Stéphanie owns a number of pieces by the Belgian-born American fashion designer with the very noble name.

Born Diane Halfin, Diane von Furstenberg married German Prince Egon of Fürstenberg in 1969. (Fun fact: The predicate attached to the Fürstenberg princely title actually is zu rather than von but I guess zu is not as universally known.) The couple divorced two children and three years later but the designer continued to work under her first husband's name.
More royal support for Diane von Furstenberg apart from Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie (and a number non-Luxembourg or Liechtenstein royal ladies) comes in the form of Hereditary Princess Sophie, who has also worn a few of the designer's signature wrap dresses. It was actually these wrap dresses that shot Diane von Furstenberg to fashion fame. She first entered the fashion world in 1972 having already designed her first silk jersey dresses during an apprenticeship at the factory of textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti previously. Two years later, in 1974, she created the now iconic wrap dress.
By 1976, Diane von Furstenberg had sold more than one million dresses and while I don't know how many she has sold since, I can tell you that both Princess Maria-Anunciata as well as Princess Marie-Astrid at least own one Furstenberg dress each. After a number of other ventures and a hiatus from the fashion world, Diane von Furstenberg re-launched the iconic dress that started it all in 1997, thus reestablishing her company.

These days the Diane von Furstenberg brands sells a full collection of ready-to-wear fashion and accessories including shoes, handbags, small leather goods, scarves and fine jewelry, as well as luggage, eyewear and home furnishings. In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award. Forbes currently ranks Diane von Furstenberg as the 68th most powerful woman in the world.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Guillaume and Stéphanie in Brazil


Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie are visiting Brazil this week as part of an ecnomic mission. Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna and some 70 representatives of Luxembourgish companies also form part of the group, which arrived in Brazil on Sunday and while stay until Thursday. The economic mission will lead the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess both to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Today they were, among other things, received by the Vice President of Brazil, Michel Temer.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that there will be some more pictures of the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple's Brazilian adventures soon!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Princess Alexandra Visits Red Cross Bazaar

Photo: RTL
It's that time of the year again. The holiday season begins with the annual Red Cross Bazaar at the Halle Victor Hugo in the Limpertsberg district of Luxembourg City. While this engagement is usually one for the Grand Duchess, she was not present but instead represented by her only daughter, Princess Alexandra, this time around. Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa is still recovering from her knee surgery and so viewing heaps of stands in an exhibition hall probably is not the best of ideas.

With all the interest in first solo engagements we had lately, it's interesting to note that this is the first solo engagement of Princess Alexandra since Luxarazzi was established in late 2009. However, this is not her first solo engagement in history as she both attended the 2008 and 2009 finals of the basketball Coupe de Luxembourg all by herself. She was accompanied for the Red Cross Bazaar today by the Minister for Family and Integration, Corinne Cahen, and Luxembourg mayor Lydie Polfer.

While RTL has a video of the event (starting at 1:37), pictures can be found at Tageblatt, Wort
and on Manuel Dias' website

Interview with Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein

Earlier this year, Prince Joseph Wenzel, oldest son of Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie, gave his first interviews. Simply known as Prince Wenzel since he was a toddler, the future Fürst of Liechtenstein finished school earlier this year. The following interview was conducted early this summer and published in Volksblatt, one of Liechtenstein's two major newspapers.

Photo: IKR
Volksblatt: Your Serene Highness, in May of this year you finished school with your Matura school leaving examination. This 'examination of maturity' [there is the word Reifeprüfung in German, an old word for the school leaving examination but still often used today in a figurative way] is often described as the the end of the first chapter of ones life and is often followed by a phase of detachment from the parental home [by moving out, starting a life of your own, etc.]. Does this apply to you as well?
Prince Wenzel: As I already went to boarding school in England for the past few years, this process started a little earlier for me. However, I always liked to come back home and I think this won't change even now that I have finished school.

Were you able to have a normal and happy childhood and teenage years, to invite school friends to your home and simply do what a normal teenager does?
Yes, I think so. I don't think it was any different for me than for other people my age. Since I started primary school until today, I have always had a nice circle of friends which I could both visit and invite home. It was important for me especially as a teenager to grow up like everyone else in this - and all other - regards.

Photo: EinTracht
In difference to many other noble families, the life of the Liechtenstein Family does not take place in the gossip columns of the media. Are you happy about this or would you like a little more attention for yourself?
It has always been important for my parents and grandparents not to make it into the gossip columns. I agree with them as it gives me the chance to move freely, grow up and live my life like any other person.

When did you become aware that you carry a special responsibility and would one day inherit the throne?
I think, to a certain degree, it has always been in the back of my head that being the firstborn means that I would one day take over my father's role.

Did you, in comparison to your siblings, receive a special education that would prepare you for your future role?
No, we all went to the same schools and also received the same education outside of school. Naturally, there were a few aspects of his work that my father explained a little more thoroughly to me. 

Photo: EinTracht
Have there ever been days when you felt that the responsibility was a burden and you wished that you wouldn't have been born a prince?
There were days when I felt a certain Fernweh [basically feeling homesick for abroad] to have options and possibilities, which I would not be able exhaust. However, there is a lot of time left until I will need to take over my father's duties and so I have the chance to experience many different things.

How much do you think about your future role and what role does it play in your career management?
When I go to university, I will follow in my father's and grandfather's footsteps and study either law or economics. I haven't thought about the time after university in too much detail but I expect to live abroad for a few years to get work experiences under my belt and then return to Liechtenstein.

To what extent are you interested in Liechtenstein's current situation, the challenges the country faces and the politics?
Of course we discuss various political matters in our family. This only raises my interest but as I lived abroad for the past few years, I haven't been able to get into all the details.

Photo: EinTracht
Do you actively follow your father's work and does he involve you in his work?
As I said, I have lived abroad for the past few years and thus we only had limited time together. But whenever I was home, my father was able to give my a first insight into his work.

How close are you to your grandfather Prince Hans-Adam and is he a role model for you?
In the winter I always went skiing with my grandfather and during the summer months, we went fishing. So we have always had a close relationship. Nevertheless, he has also been a role model for me, especially as he always had an answer and explanation to every question I had.

What are the differences between you and your father and grandfather, respectively. Do you see any parallels between yourself and them?
Other people probably have a better answer to this question.

Photo: Exclusiv
How much has your grandmother, Princess Marie, influenced you? And what have you learned from your mother?
I think it is only natural that I have learned a lot from both of them.

The aristocracy has its own rules and ceremony: Do this principles and rituals, which some people view as outdated, still have a future for you?
I don't think that modern noble families like mine still have rules and rituals that are outdated and without any future. In difference: I am under the impression that during a time many people complain about a certain decline in values, many get more interest in noble families and the way they maintain certain values.

Which Liechtenstein tradition do you like the most? What's near and dear to you when it comes to the Principality?
I have always liked about Liechtenstein that we have such an informal and familial atmosphere. That everyone knows everyone says a lot about the positive of the country, I believe. This especially shows on days like our national day.

How would you describe Liechtenstein in five [well, six in English] words to a foreigner?
A small jewel in the Alps.

What do you wish for your and what for Liechtenstein's future?
Success, may we both do well.

Grand Duke Attends Book Festival

Photo: Guy Jallay / Luxemburger Wort / Wort.lu
On Friday, Grand Duke Henri attended the Walfer Bicherdeeg in honour of its 20th anniversary. The Walfer Bicherdeeg lasts three days, from Friday the 14th to Sunday the 16th, and offers numerous events, including Friday evening's "Nuit de la littérature", which Grand Duke Henri was present for. This event showcased authors readings from their works and musical and comedy performances.

The 20th anniversary celebration also includes the unveiling of a newly created app that allows users to explore the literary scene in Luxembourg.

More photos are available at Wort.

Liechtenstein Celebrates Silver Throne Jubilee

Photo: Roland Korner / IKR
Yesterday, the silver throne jubilee of Prince Hans-Adam II was celebrated with a concert and a mass at the Kathedrale St. Florin in Vaduz. Among those present were the Fürst himself, his wife Princess Marie as well as Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie with their youngest son, Prince Nikolaus.

The concert and subsequent mass included music by the cathedral's choir, soloist Karl Jerolitsch and wind players. Pieces by Franz Schubert, Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Georg Friedrich Händel were the festive musical framework of the mass in the fully occupied church.

Another picture is available at Volksblatt.