Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein is the Western world’s most powerful monarch, with the right even to overrule parliament.
But one of his many royal rights is now under threat. On July 1, citizens of the tiny Alpine tax haven, sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland, will vote on whether to strip him of the right to veto referendum results.
It all started when the prince’s son Alois—who runs day-to-day affairs for his father—threatened to overturn a referendum to legalize abortion. The conservative Catholic family dropped the issue when the vote went their way.
But this time, Alois is warning to “completely withdraw from political life” if the vote goes against him.
Few dare speak out against the billionaire family, which lives in a castle in the hills above the capital, Vaduz. This isn’t the first time they have threatened their subjects.
In 2003, Hans-Adam wanted the right to dismiss the government and appoint judges. He threatened to decamp to his palace in Austria, taking Liechtenstein’s largest financial institution, the family-run LGT bank, with him, and even warned he’d sell his castle to the highest bidder. Some who opposed the royals found disembowelled animals on their doorsteps. Voters gave in. On July 1, they may yield once more.