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HistoryState & Ceremonial

The President who doubles as a Prince

Not many people know that the continent of Europe is home not to one but two principalities recognised by most international organisations. 

While most people have heard about Monaco, the Principality of Andorra remains mostly hidden from the majority of the public. 

The Pyrenees-nestled microstate was founded in 1278 with the same political arrangement with which it is managed today: a diarchy, which took shape after Aragon mediated a conflict between the two parties and led them to sign the first paréage (or treaty), stipulating that the power be shared. 

Its creation in Medieval times was the result of a treaty stipulated between the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix, the descendants (or evolutions) of which are still in charge of the nation today. 

The current setup of the country mimics what was in the accords that stipulated its creation: the Co-Principality was founded as a split power between the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia and the Count of Foix. 

And while the Bishop of Urgell is a role that still exists to this day, France’s side of the history is a bit more troubling. The Count of Foix always held the power, and through marriage, the title passed to the King of Navarre. 

When King Henry III of Navarre was crowned King Henry IV of France, the power over the Co-Principality of Andorra passed onto the Crown of France – a fact ratified by a 1607 edict. 

There was only one instance in which Andorra lost its independence, and it was during the Napoleonic wars. In 1812-13, Catalonia, including Andorra, was annexed into the French Empire and divided into four regions. With the defeat of Napoleon I, a royal decree was issued reversing the annexation, and Andorra has maintained its diarchy ever since. 

The last big changes are part of the more recent history: first and foremost, when France became a republic, the rule of Andorra passed from the Crown to the President, meaning that current French President Emmanuel Macron is also Co-Prince of Andorra.

The last big change came in March 1993, when the Co-Principality adopted its first constitution, which was approved with a vote by the Andorran people, and ratified by the then-Co-Princes, Bishop Joan Martí Alanis and French President François Mitterrand. 

The new Constitution puts down in writing the prerogatives of both Co-Princes, as well as the tributes that they are owed, following the abolition in 1993 of the Medieval system (which saw payments of $460 to the French ruler in odd years and a tribute of $12, six hams, six kinds of cheese and six live chickens to the Spanish Bishop in even years).

The roles of the two Co-Princes are established within the 46th article of the Constitution and lays down the foundations that allow the President of France also to be a Prince. 

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