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Last Updated: Friday, 15 August, 2003, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Alpine prince to give up power
Prince Hans-Adam II
Hans-Adam will remain head of state
The ruler of the tiny principality of Liechtenstein, Prince Hans-Adam II, has announced that he will retire from active politics in a year's time.

The 58-year-old prince will remain head of state while giving control of the government to his son, Alois.

Prince Hans Adam has headed the alpine mini-state since his father Franz Josef II died in 1989.

His latest move comes less than five months after he won support in a referendum to extend his powers, in effect making him an absolute monarch.

His family has ruled the principality for 300 years.

Hans-Adam made the announcement during an address to mark the state's national holiday.

He said the transfer would take place on the national holiday in one year's time.

Prince Alois, 35, the eldest of his four children, attended local schools before being sent to Sandhurst military academy in the UK.

Dictatorship fears

He appears to support his father's stance on constitutional affairs, recently proposing in a newspaper interview to leave the Council of Europe if it decided to monitor democracy in Liechtenstein.

Map showing Liechtenstein's location between Austria and Switzerland
The constitutional changes approved in March allow the prince to sack the government, veto legislation and nominate judges.

They have prompted warnings that the country could be descending into dictatorship.

Hans-Adam II has maintained that he was merely trying to iron out inconsistencies in the constitution.

He threatened to leave his castle in the capital Vaduz for another residence in Vienna if the referendum result did not go his way.




SEE ALSO:
Liechtenstein prince wins powers
16 Mar 03  |  Europe
UK royals 'not Europe's richest'
04 Jun 99  |  Europe
Liechtenstein banking crackdown
20 Jul 00  |  Business
Country profile: Liechtenstein
25 Apr 01  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Liechtenstein
25 Apr 01  |  Europe


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