Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Royal Titles Still a No-go in Austria

The European high court upheld an Austrian law that removes royal titles from citizens' family names, finding that the law aligns with European Union principles.

     An Austrian-born woman, who had been adopted as a girl by a German citizen with the title "prince" in his name, sued the Viennese registry when it removed the "princess" title from her name.

     Austrian authorities registered the girl's adopted name, Ilonka Fürstin von Sayn-Wittgenstein, which translates as Ilonka Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein, in 1991, also issuing a passport including the princess title.

     While living in Germany, Fürstin von Sayn-Wittgenstein had obtained a German driver's license and ran a German business under her full adopted name.

     But a 2003 ruling by the Austrian Constitutional Court revived a law from 1919, the year that Austria became a federal republic, banning Austrian citizens from using surnames that include royal titles. The law, eventually codified as a constitutional amendment, was interpreted after 1945 to apply as well to German names in Austria.

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