21 June 2011

Luxembourg: Succession law modifed

The Grand Ducal Court of Luxembourg announced yesterday, 20 June 2011, that the Grand Duke in a decree of 16 September 2010, with authority in the Nassau Family Pact of 1783, has changed the internal regulations of the House of Luxembourg-Nassau in order to make the succession to the Grand Ducal throne gender neutral.

Before the decree came into force,(*) Semi-Salic succession applied, meaning that the succession was "reserved firstly to all the male dynastic descendants of all the eligible branches by order of primogeniture, then upon total extinction of these male descendants to the eldest of the dynastic female descendants" (ATR FAQ). The succession was limited to the daughters of Grand Duke Guilluame IV and their descendants.

According to the press release the new rules only affect the descendants of Grand Duke Henri, which I interpret as saying that the former succession rules are still in force for the other branches. It is not possible to be 100% sure of this however, as the decree has still not been made available. The explanatory note seems to say in footnote 6 that the modifications will be published in Mémorial B (the Official Gazette of Luxembourg) - as of today the last issue of Mémorial B made available is dated 17 June 2011. I have asked the court for a copy of the decree, but have not received a reply yet.

Now, while I am pleased to hear that the succession law has been made gender neutral, I find it a bit strange that it took so long to announce the changes. And it is interesting that a constitutional monarchy still allows for the monarch personally to make such changes. A bit surprising, perhaps, that the complete text of the decree was not released together with the press announcement. In the explanatory note we are told that the ongoing work to modernize the Family Pact and the internal regulations is "in the process of finalization".

The new rules means that Princess Alexandra, b. 1991, now has got succession rights, and because of her brother Prince Louis' renunciation in 2006, cf. the Luxembourgian media at the time (**), she is supposedly no. 3 in the line of succession - after her brothers Hereditary Grand Duke Guilluame and Prince Félix, but before her younger brother Prince Sébastien.

I have tonight updated my Luxembourg page with the addition of the above-mentioned press release. The decree will of course also be added as soon as it has been published.

See also Luxarazzi's blog article of today, New Succession Rules, as well as the following newspaper articles:
  • Thronfolge neu geregelt. Unterschiede zwischen Söhnen und Töchtern beseitigt (Wort.lu 20 June 2011)
  • Großherzog Henri führt neue Thronfolge ein (Tageblatt.lu 20 June 2011)
  • Haus Nassau: Männer a Fraen an Trounfolleg lo gläichgestallt (RTL.lu 21 June 2011)
  • New Ducal succession rights for Grand Duchy. Differences between sons and daughters removed (Wort.lu, English edition, 21 June 2011)
  • Hommes et femmes désormais égaux (Journal.lu 21 June 2011)
  • Luxembourg: Révolution au palais [!!!] (Le Quotidien 21 June 2011)
(*) I take it that the decree came into force when the changes were announced, although the press release doesn't seem to say so explicitly.
(**) The text of the renunciation has never been made public as far as I know, and it has not been explained satisfactorily what authority the decision was based on. It should also be added that Le Quotidien claims that Prince Louis kept his rights, but that his sons are excluded, bringing Princess Alexandra to 4th place.



  1. LuxMag352 also claims that Louis still has his place in the succession, but that his sons do not. Louis definitely renounced his rights of succession on August 22, 2006. It is impossible to locate a copy of the renunciation but the press release issued by the palace states he did. I am not in a position to say that he didn't renounce his rights after they specifically stated he did.

    They announced that he gave up his rights (if that is even permitted under the family pact) and no part of the new decree makes an exception for returning rights those after lost.