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Prince Hans-Adam II, head of state of Liechtenstein, believed for decades that extraterrestrials visit the earth. The diaries of the astrophysicist Jacques Vallée provide insights into a royal family, where UFO sightings and dark conspiracy theories were frequent table discussions.

This content was published on May 26, 2020 - 11:00 am
Christoph Kummer, swissinfo.ch

Are there extraterrestrials? And do you visit the earth? The age-old question - "Are we alone?" - employs many people, including heads of state and entrepreneurs. The UFO topic has even experienced a revival in recent years. This also has to do with reports in the "New York Times" External Link on a secret UFO research program run by the Pentagon.

The media interest drew attention to celebrities who are tracking down the phenomenon: For example the former US musician Tom DeLonge, who investigates alleged UFO wreckage with his "To The Stars AcademyExterner Link" or the space entrepreneur and NASA partner Robert Bigelow, who in an interview with CBS said that he was convinced that there was an "extraterrestrial presence on EarthExternal Link".

In the countless media reports at home and abroad, it has so far been forgotten that Hans-Adam II, the head of state of Liechtenstein, also sponsored international UFO research for decades and maintained close contacts with people like Robert Bigelow. It has long been known that the secretive prince believes in UFOs and extraterrestrials.

But details never made it public. And it might have stayed that way if a French astrophysicist named Jacques Vallée hadn't meticulously kept a diary for decades.

"Forbidden Science"

ValléeExterner Link is seen as a shining light in UFO research and one of the few credible sources in a field of research that is ridiculed by established scientists. The Frenchman is also a tech financier in Silicon Valley and co-founder of the Internet forerunner Arpanet.

He gave several lectures as part of the well-known TED Talk series, a forum where prominent thinkers talk about their fields of research - in 2013 also in GenevaExterner Link.

His "Forbidden Science" diaries give detailed and sometimes relentless insights into the curious world of UFO research. It is a world in which hobby researchers, government officials and alleged alien contacts vie for sovereignty.

Where rumors, myths and scams are omnipresent and renegade scientists courting millionaires so that they can live out their UFO obsession. Hans-Adam II, the now 75-year-old Prince of Liechtenstein, also moved in this world as a fascinated financier.

A family tradition

Jacques Vallée's diaries begin in 1957, the most recent edition runs until 1999. The Prince of Liechtenstein appears primarily in Vallées' notes from the 1980s and 1990s. In an entry from November 1989, Vallée describes a visit to Vaduz Castle.

"We ate lunch in the smaller dining room with the family: the Prince's wife, his sister, two of his children. The coffee was served in a drawing room," Vallée recorded soberly. The conversations about UFOs and other "paranormal phenomena" would have lasted late into the night.

Hans-Adam II is said to have observed a UFO as a boy - so it says elsewhere. A UFO researcher named Dick Haines told Vallée about a conversation with the monarch. He told how he observed from the palace garden that a UFO disappeared behind the trees and flew towards Switzerland.

The prince told Vallée himself that a UFO sighting by his aunt in Munich in the 1950s had aroused his interest in the subject. A cousin is also said to have had a UFO encounter, as can be read in another note from November 1989.

According to Vallée's records, Hans-Adam II paid a lot of money to individuals and groups investigating the UFO phenomenon. Much of the sponsorship went to the US and went to researcher meetings and studies.

For example, in the early 1990s, Hans-Adam II, together with Robert Bigelow, commissioned a study for 200,000 US dollars to determine how many Americans had been kidnapped by aliens.

Hunt for new drive systems

The US journalist Sarah ScolesExterner Link, who writes for the US technology magazines "Wired" and "Popular Mechanics", has examined the community of UFO believers in detail in recent years. She summarized her experiences in a recently published book entitled "They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers".

"UFOs are spoken and written more seriously today than in the past," Scoles told swissinfo.ch. "They appear in renowned media and are discussed in briefings by politicians, at least in the USA." The revelations of the "New York Times" about a UFO program of the Pentagon would have done this. "If the US Department of Defense takes UFOs seriously, it gives the issue a certain legitimacy."

In the USA in particular, many people would seriously deal with UFOs. There would be weirdos, of course, but many would try soberly and seriously to "solve the riddle". "Most want to collect evidence," she says, "others, like Robert Bigelow, are investigating UFOs to gain new technologies for the aerospace industry," says Scoles.

This apparently also applies to the Prince of Liechtenstein. According to Vallée's diaries, Hans-Adam II also wanted to investigate the UFO phenomenon in order to find new types of energy sources and drives. The prince believes that the UFOs come from distant planets and are controlled by technologically highly developed extraterrestrials.

Dark conspiracy theories

But the strictly Catholic Hans Adam II was also afraid of them. "There is an extraterrestrial power that monitors and controls the efforts of people to conquer space," Jacques Vallée quoted the head of state in an entry.

According to the 1989 diary entry, the prince is said to have speculated that "it appears that a race of genetically degenerate aliens is visiting earth to fetch healthy people so that they can heal themselves."

Sounds like dark conspiracy theories. According to Sarah Scoles, such views are not widespread among UFO believers today. "Most just prefer the alien hypothesis. That is, they believe UFOs are extraterrestrial. That seems to be true of Robert Bigelow, and it seems to be true of Tom DeLonge too." Others, such as Jacques Vallée, would have been less committed. "You want to find out where the phenomenon came from."

How does Scole assess the Prince's discussion partner Jacques Vallée? She did not deal specifically with Vallée during her research, but he is "very respected, especially in the American UFO community," she says.

You yourself are in "none of these camps," says journalist Scoles. "I remain rather skeptical about that. I think that people see things in the sky that they cannot explain themselves, and that there are UFO sightings that no one can explain based on existing data. But I wonder if these sightings can be explained could if there was more data on it. I don't know ... "

What the head of state of Liechtenstein thinks about UFOs today is unknown. Does he still sponsor projects? What does the reserved prince say about his depiction in Vallées diaries? And how does he feel about the current revelations about the US military's UFO program? Swissinfo.ch wanted to ask the Prince these questions. His secretariat announced that "H.D. the prince would not like to give an interview on this subject".

Hans-Adam II lives today in Vienna. In 2004 he transferred the exercise of princely sovereign rights to his son Alois, but remained head of state of Liechtenstein. Since then he has devoted himself to the management of the family assets, which according to the "balance sheet" are estimated at 9 and 10 billion francs. If he had been able to choose his profession himself, he would have become a physicist or an archaeologist, the prince told the "Liechtenstein Fatherland" last November.

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