Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe, located between Switzerland and Austria. It is also one of the most prosperous. It is a constitutional monarchy with a reigning prince as head of state. The current reigning prince, Prince Hans-Adam II, has turned over much of the day-to-day duties to his son Hereditary Prince Alois, but retains the position of head of state.
The princely family of Liechtenstein has a long history, back to at least the 12th century. Karl I of Liechtenstein was given the hereditary title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1608. The family owned lands in Austria, held under feudal overlords such as the Habsburgs, but wanted the extra power that was associated with owning lands with allegiance directly to the Holy Roman Emperor. In pursuit of this aim, Karl’s grandson Hans-Adam I acquired Schellenberg in 1699 and Vaduz in 1712. In 1719 Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI unified these two territories and created the Principality of Liechtenstein, with the incumbent ruler, Anton Florian, as the first Prince of Liechtenstein.
The reigning princes did not live in their principality until the early 20th century: Franz Joseph II, father of the current reigning prince, was the first member of the family to live in Liechtenstein full time. The family now occupies Vaduz Castle.
The present members of the princely family bear the titles of Prince(ss) of Liechtenstein, Count(ess) of Rietberg (in German, Prinz/Prinzessin von und zu Liechtenstein, Graf/Gräfin zu Rietberg); the Sovereign Prince’s full title is Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, Duke of Troppau and Jägerndorf, Count of Rietberg, Sovereign of the House of Liechtenstein (in German, Fürst von und zu Liechtenstein, Herzog von Troppau und Jägerndorf, Graf zu Rietberg, Regierer des Hauses von und zu Liechtenstein). All the members of the princely family are styled Serene Highness (in German, Durchlaucht). The wives of the members of the princely family bear the female version of their husband’s titles and style, with only a couple of exceptions: Hereditary Princess Sophie and Princess Margaretha, who were styled Royal Highness by birth and who retained that style after marriage.