Who is Prince of Liechtenstein?
Hans-Adam II is the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein. He is the son of Franz Joseph II, Prince of Liechtenstein (1906–1989) and his wife Countess Georgina von Wilczek (1921–1989). He also bears the titles Duke of Troppau and Jagerndorf, and Count Rietberg.
The Prince of Liechtenstein has broad powers. A referendum to adopt Hans-Adam’s revision of the constitution to expand his powers passed in 2003. The changes also included a republican option, whereby the Prince was henceforth formally barred from vetoing a bill to establish a republic. In addition, the right of each of the parishes which make up the Principality to secede was recognised. Prince Hans-Adam had announced his intention that his family and he would move to Austria if the referendum failed. Despite opposition from Mario Frick, a former prime minister, the Prince’s referendum motion was carried by the electorate.
On 15 August 2004 Prince Hans-Adam II formally turned the power of making day-to-day governmental decisions over to his eldest son, the Hereditary Prince Alois, as a way of beginning a dynastic transition to a new generation. Legally, Hans-Adam remains Head of State.
In July 2012 the people of Liechtenstein overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to curtail the political power of the princely family. Despite an almost year-long campaign by those who opposed the changes, 76% of those voting in a referendum said Hereditary Prince Alois should be allowed to retain his power of veto over decisions made in nationwide ballots. Matters were brought to a head in September 2012, ahead of a referendum on decriminalising abortion, in some cases, up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
In Liechtenstein, abortion is strictly illegal. Women wanting to end a pregnancy have to travel to neighbouring Germany or Austria, and if found out, risk imprisonment. A few days before voters were due to cast their votes, Alois announced that he would veto any relaxation of the ban on abortion, whatever the voters decided in the referendum. The proposal was, its supporters said, fairly modest. The princely veto would be removed only for nationwide referendums; the prince would still be able to veto parliamentary decisions. In the end, though, voters overwhelmingly backed the prince’s powers with barely 24% saying the veto should go.
Legislators, who serve on a part-time basis, rose in the prince’s defence on 23 May, voting 18 to 7 against the citizens’ initiative as part of the procedure to put the referendum on the veto power before the public. Prince Hans-Adam reacted to the result
“It is with joy and gratitude that the Princely House of Liechtenstein has taken note that a large majority of the population would like to continue the hitherto so successful 300-year partnership between the people and the Princely House”.
Prince Hans-Adam II has written the political treatise The State in the Third Millennium, which was published in late 2009.
Prince Hans-Adam owns LGT banking group and has a family fortune of $7.6 billion and a personal fortune of about $4.0 billion, making him one of the world’s richest heads of state, and Europe’s wealthiest monarch. He owns an extensive art collection, much of which is displayed for the public at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.
Hans-Adam’s native language is German, but he is also fluent in English and French.
On 30 July 1967, at St. Florian’s in Vaduz, he married his second cousin once-removed, Countess Marie Aglae Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau (born 1940) who, upon her husband’s accession to the throne, became Her Serene Highness The Princess of Liechtenstein. Their official residence is at Vaduz Castle, which overlooks the capital.
In 1969, Hans-Adam graduated from the University of St. Gallen with a Licentiate (equivalent to a Master’s degree) in Business and Economic Studies.
The Prince is an honorary member of K.D.St.V. Nordgau Prag Stuttgart, a Catholic students’ fraternity that is a member of the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen. The Prince chairs the Advisory Council of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-determination at Princeton University, LISD. In his childhood he joined the Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Liechtenstein on Vaduz. He is also a former member of the Viennese Scout Group “Wien 16-Schotten”. He is a member of the World Scout Foundation.
Prince Hans-Adam II has written the political treatise The State in the Third Millennium, which was published in late 2009. In it, he argues for the continued importance of the nation-state as a political actor. He makes the case for democracy as the best form of government, which he sees China and Russia as transitioning towards although the path will be difficult for these nations.
He also declared his role in a royal family as something that has legitimacy only from the assent of the people. He stated that government should be limited to a small set of tasks and abilities, writing that people
“have to free the state from all the unnecessary tasks and burdens with which it has been loaded during the last hundred years, which have distracted it from its two main tasks: maintenance of the rule of law and foreign policy.”
In an interview, recorded in November 2010, Hans-Adam said that he saw certain problems with aspects of the US Constitution, such as the lack of direct democracy. He also said, “I am sitting here and that’s because Americans saved us during World War II and during the Cold War. So I am very grateful to them.”