Prince for a day


Care to be king for a day? Rent Liechtenstein.

Actually, Liechtenstein doesn't have a king; it has a prince. But for $375 to $500 a head, with a minimum of 450 heads, corporations can now rent the entire 160-square-kilometer country, with full access to one of the royal castles.

"The basic idea is that an entire, small country plays host to a conference with all the various possibilities at its disposal," Roland Buechel, director of the state tourism agency, told the London Times. When a company signs up, the mayor of Liechtenstein's capital, Vaduz, hands over the keys to the principality and flies the company's flag. The tourism agency plans to offer "corporate team-building activities" such as tobogganing, museum visits, and wine tasting in the royal cellars.

Meanwhile, the country's real royalty, 56-year-old Prince Hans-Adam II, has business plans of his own for the kingdom: He recently threatened to sell Liechtenstein to Bill Gates and rename it Microsoft if he wasn't granted more political power. Though he later said he was joking, his threats to move to Austria, taking his considerable riches with him, might have been more serious.

Either or both bluffs seem to have paid off: In March a referendum granting the prince extensive new powers passed easily, with voter turnout upward of 80 percent. According to The New York Times, the resulting constitutional amendments will allow Hans-Adam to dissolve Parliament; influence the appointment of judges; be removed from the jurisdiction of the country's constitutional court; and veto legislation passed by Parliament. But the amendment also gives citizens the right to vote the prince out, though various males in his extended family would ultimately decide whether to replace him.