In his annual Christmas address, Prince Hans-Adam II, the Head of State in Liechtenstein chose rather than a review of 2017 to describe the history of the principality. This is ahead of the upcoming celebration of 300 years since Liechtenstein became a dynastic principality. The Prince can trace his lineage via the direct male line to three of the previous fourteen Princes of Liechtenstein and a further three on the female line.
There had been Princes of Liechtenstein for many years, and they had been advisers to the Holy Roman Emperor. However, Liechtenstein Castle in Lower Austria where they ruled was always ruled by more senior princes, so they could not sit in the Reichstag – the government. It was only after Prince Hans Adam I purchased Vaduz and the county of Schellenberg they had their land with no feudal Lord. Following these purchases, Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor decreed that the titles should be joined and the new area be called Liechtenstein on the 23rd January 1718.
Despite the size of Liechtenstein, the Princely Family are one of the richest royal families in the world with an estimated wealth of around $7.5 billion, and the Sovereign Prince is the wealthiest head in Europe with an estimated wealth of $4 billion. He is also very keen to maintain the dynastic succession, his own father, Prince Franz-Joseph II, handed the day-to-day running of the country over to him in 1984, and has also handed the day-to-day running over to his son, Prince Alois in 2004 whilst remaining Sovereign Prince.
There was a referendum in 2012 which attempted to curtail the power of the Princely Family; however, despite a year-long campaign over three-quarters of those voting opposed the measure. Prince Hans-Adam said of 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”. With a Hereditary Prince, who also has a son, Prince Joseph Wenzel, I think the partnership has many years in the future to run.