Prince Hans-Adam II
Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein (born in Zurich, Switzerland, on 14 February 1945) is the current Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein since the death of his father Franz Josef II in 1989.
Family Background, Childhood, and Education
His Serene Highness Prince Johannes “Hans” Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d’Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein was born on 14 February 1945 in Zurich, Switzerland, the eldest of the five children of the then Prince Franz Josef II and his wife Princess Gina, née Countess von Wilczek. He was named after Prince Hans-Adam I, who in 1699 and 1712 was given the Lordship of Schellenberg and the County of Vaduz by the Holy Roman Emperor, becoming the founder of the Principality of Liechtenstein; his last name comes from his godfather, the then Pope Pius XII.
His father was a son of Prince Aloys and Princess Elisabeth; his mother was the daughter of the Austrian Count Ferdinand von Wilczek and his wife Norberta, née Countess Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. After Hans-Adam, Prince Franz Josef and Princess Gina became parents of four more children: Philipp (b.1946), Nikolaus (b.1947), Nora (b.1950), and Wenzel (1962-1991).
The young Prince Hans-Adam grew up with his siblings in Vaduz Castle, the residence of his parents; Prince Franz Josef and Princess Gina were the first princely couple to reside permanently in Liechtenstein, and Hans-Adam is the first Reigning Prince to have grown up in the Principality. He attended the primary school in Vaduz; in 1956, when he was 11, he entered the Schottengymnasium in Vienna, where his father had studied years before. In 1960 he moved again, and started attending the Grammar School at Zuoz, Switzerland, which he completed in 1965 achieving the Swiss advanced-level diploma and the German Abitur certificate. After leaving school, the Prince worked for a short time as a trainee in a bank in London; in autumn 1965, he began a course in Business and Economics at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, where he graduated in 1969 as Licentiate.
During his youth, Prince Hans-Adam learnt to speak English and French as well as German. He is a keen sportsman, being particularly fond of skiing and scuba-diving, and as a child he joined the Vaduz scout troop.
Life as Hereditary Prince
In 1965 Prince Hans-Adam became engaged to Countess Marie Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, the 25-year-old second cousin of Princess Gina; she was daughter of the Czech Count Ferdinand Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau and his wife Countess Henriette, née Countess von Ledebur-Wicheln. Hans-Adam and Marie married in Vaduz on 30 July 1967, in St. Florin Church, and became parents of four children: Alois, the present Hereditary Prince, born on 11 June 1968, married Duchess Sophie in Bavaria in 1993; Maximilian, best known as Max, born on 16 May 1969, married Angela Gisela Brown in 2000 (Prince Max is Chief Executive Officer of the Liechtenstein Global Trust); Constantin, born on 15 March 1972, married Countess Maria Gabriele Kálnoky de Köröspatak in 1999; and Tatjana, born on 10 April 1973, married Philipp von Lattorff in 1999. Prince Hans-Adam and Princess Marie also have 14 grandchildren.
In 1970, a year after graduating from university, Prince Hans-Adam was appointed chairman of the newly established Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation, which incorporated all the private assets belonging to the princely family, taking care of the management and administration of them; for the next 14 years, the reorganization of the family assets was the main occupation of the young Prince.
The same year, the 25-year-old Hans-Adam started his public life, paying a visit to EFTA and attending the funeral of French President Charles de Gaulle in Paris in November; he also gave his first public speech.
Accession and Reign
On the 45th anniversary of his accession to the throne, in 1983, the old Prince Franz Josef announced his wish to appoint his son Hans-Adam his permanent representative, transferring to him the exercise of his sovereign powers under the terms of Article 13 of the Constitution of Liechtenstein; the transfer took place in August 1984.
On the death of Prince Franz Josef II on 13 November 1989, Prince Hans-Adam became Reigning Prince (Fürst) of Liechtenstein, Duke of Troppau and Jägerndorf, Count of Rietberg, Sovereign of the House of Liechtenstein. The enthronement ceremony took place on 15 August 1990 in Vaduz; both the Prince and the new Hereditary Prince Alois promised the people to work for their welfare and for the country, according to the Constitution. The decision to make the Hereditary Prince promise as well was taken by Hans-Adam, because he wanted to take the most important decisions jointly with Prince Alois in order to train him for his future tasks as monarch.
Unlike his father, who focused his policy mainly on domestic issues, Prince Hans-Adam concentrated on foreign policy, taking a personal and active role; during the first years of his reign, Liechtenstein joined the United Nations Organization in 1990, the European Free Trade Association in 1991, and the European Economic Area and the World Trade Organization in 1995.
On the domestic policy front, Prince Hans-Adam has initiated two major policies. The first one is the promulgation of the new House Statute in 1993, replacing the Family Covenant of 1606; the aim of the new House Statute is to provide the Princely House with a basis for resolving all possible issues within the family in the 3rd millennium and to secure the autonomy of the Princely House in these matters.
The second important act was the 2003 referendum about the constitutional position of the monarchy in the Principality. This referendum was promoted by Prince Hans-Adam after a series of fights with his governments, and provided for more powers for the Reigning Prince, including the power to dismiss the government, to block laws voted by the Parliament, to change the rules governing succession to the throne, and to appoint judges; on the other hand, the people can ask for a referendum to change the government from a monarchy to a republic. The referendum was approved by 64% of the population; in the days before the vote, Prince Hans-Adam threatened to abdicate and move to Austria with all his family if the amendments he proposed were rejected in the referendum.
While serving as Head of State, Prince Hans-Adam never stopped his work in the administration of the large assets of the princely family, one of the richest reigning houses in the world.
On 15 August 2003 Prince Hans-Adam announced his intention to turn over the regency to his son Alois, in preparation for his succession to the Throne; on 15 August 2004 Hans-Adam appointed Hereditary Prince Alois his permanent representative, under the terms of article 13 of the Constitution. Hans-Adam retained the title of Reigning Prince, but his executive powers were turned over to Alois; the same action had been taken in 1984 by Prince Franz Josef in favour of Hans-Adam himself.
Since then, Prince Hans Adam has returned to his work managing the family assets, although he still attends royal events both in Liechtenstein and abroad. He and his wife Marie live in quiet retirement in Vaduz Castle, far from the scandals that in the last decades have hit several other European royal houses. In one of his speeches from the Throne, in 1996, Prince Hans Adam declared that, “Reigning houses are increasingly becoming the playthings of the mass media. In these circumstances, it is very difficult to lead a normal family life. A normally functioning family is, however, a prerequisite for passing on from generation to generation those values which in the end have been decisive for our family’s success. Luckily, until now the smallness of the country and a low-key media policy have to a great extent saved us from becoming fodder for the media with all the associated problems.”
Official press photo by Presse- und Informationsamt, Vaduz; used with permission.