Controversy in Liechtenstein!

Alex Marshall, author of Republic of Death!, in the Vaterland newspaper

Mein Gott, today I’m in Liechtenstein’s biggest newspaper, Vaterland, talking about my book and looking sweaty while sitting with Baron Eduard von Falz-Fein, a 103-year-old multi-millionaire.

You can read a bit of the interview here and you can read the Baron’s story – involving everything from Tsars to bobsleighing, and an awful lot of women – in my book. I really would like to write his biography; he’s lived enough for a hundred people.

Liechtensteiners – danke für besuch! Kaufen mein Buch an Amazon.de. Es tut mir leid es ist in Englisch! Auch, es gibt einige große versionen der Hymne in diesem Audio-Guide!

Liechtenstein gets a chapter in the book principally because it’s the only country outside the UK’s influence that still has God Save the Queen for its anthem and I wanted to know why on earth they hadn’t changed it. Going there also allowed me to tell God Save the Queen’s story without having to boringly focus on England’s far-right (the British way: avoid one controversy, go abroad and create another!).

But another reason it gets a chapter is more simple: it’s a fantastic place. I highly recommend it to you all. Just don’t go there and tell everyone you hate their anthem!

Partying with the prince of Liechtenstein

National day 2013 in Liechtenstein. Prince Hans-Adam II, Prince Alois and their wives get ready to party!

National day 2013 in Liechtenstein. Prince Hans-Adam II (left), Hereditary Prince Alois (right) and their wives and children get ready to party!

Every August, the tiny Alpine country of Liechtenstein celebrates its national day, with all 36,000 inhabitants – and 50,000 tax avoiding companies – invited up to the prince’s castle to be served beer by the royal family (that’s them in the photo).

I went along to this year’s event and recorded this about it for the BBC focusing on the country’s current, and somewhat bizarre, economic crisis.

It features both the prince and the country’s leading politician: a cross dressing mechanic.

Sorry for the badly pronounced German halfway through; that might have something to do with the amount of beer I’d drunk!

It was recorded for the BBC’s always-great From Our Own Correspondent programme, and you can listen to the full episode here. Alongside my piece, there’s correspondents finding out what’s happened to the Muslim Brotherhood since Egypt’s latest coup, discovering whether Iranians are the most misunderstood people on earth, telling a forgotten whistleblower’s story, and playing the coconut viola in Ho Chi Minh City. See, amazing!

Thanks to everyone I met in Liechtenstein while out there. You were all amazingly helpful and hospitable. To anyone else reading, I thoroughly recommend a visit. Why not even rent the entire country for the weekend?

The secrets behind national anthems in 1,000 words…

…and a poor joke about Coldplay.

A piece I’ve done for the BBC went online today (above’s a picture of it on the front page).

I’ve somehow crammed 18 countries into it. Although apologies to anyone from Oman or Zimbabwe, who I seem to insult!

If you know of any secrets it doesn’t mention, please let me know.