23 June 2011

Luxembourg: Grand Ducal decree concerning succession changes published in Mémorial

The Grand Ducal decree of 16 September 2010 introducing equality between males and females with respect to the succession to the throne (Decret grand-ducal du 16 septembre 2010 introduisant l'égalité entre hommes et femmes en matière de succession au trône) was today published in the Official Gazette of Luxembourg, Mémorial B (Legilux.lu).

The Lord Chamberlain's Office at the Grand Ducal Court announced on Monday this week that Grand Duke Henri by decree of 16 September 2010 had modified the regulations governing the succession to the throne of Luxembourg, something I commented on in my blog the day after, 21 June 2011.

The text of the decree has now been added to my Luxembourg page (together with some other links which the readers hopefully will find interesting). I have also received a translation to the said press release, including the explanatory note, which has also been added to my website. I hope that all the documents will be used actively as a basis for further discussions on the royalty discussion forums and/or in comments to my blog.

As far as I can tell, the decree doesn't really add much more than the Lord Chamberlain's Office told in the press release. There still seems to be some uncertainty about whether the new rules only apply to the children of Grand Duke Henri, or if they could also be retroactively used for the Grand Duke's siblings as well, meaning that Princess Marie Astrid and Princess Margaretha and their issue would surpass Prince Guillaume in the line of succession. Maybe I was a bit too categorical when I in my previous article on the succession law stated that "According to the press release the new rules only affect the descendants of Grand Duke Henri". The word first might be the key here. One correspondent has disagreed with me, reading the text to say that the new rule will be first applied to the issue of Grand Duke Henri and that in the unlikely extinction of the current Grand Duke's issue, his older sister's issue would come first. I suppose his interpretation is as plausible as my understanding (I have become less categorical by now).

It would be interesting to get more opinions on this! I might try to contact a Luxembourgian legal expert to have a say as well.

Postscript 1 August 2011: As mentioned above I have written to a Luxembourgian constitutional expert in order to get his comments on the modifications to the succession law and the various interpretations. Unfortunately I have not received an answer yet. The blogger Trond Norén Isaksen has taken the time to contact the Grand-Ducal Court to get more information. In the first article dated 29 June 2011 we are told that the court maintained that the law was not made retroactive, meaning that Princess Alexandra did not have succession rights. I found this hard to believe, as the court's statement certainly was contrary to the wording of the decree (and the press release).

On 11 July 2011, however, it is stated that the court has informed that Princess Alexandra indeed is in the line of succession to the Grand-Ducal throne. This is in agreement with the most obvious interpretation of the decree, as I commented on in my first article (21 June 2011). The question remains, as pointed out above, if the changes to the succession law also apply to the other branches of the Grand-Ducal family. The question is what is meant by the word first, cf. the press release from the court as well as the decree ("erstmals"). One correspondent believes, as written above, that the changes could also apply to the other branches. I can understand why he thinks so, which is why I have decided to have an open mind on the matter. It remains an academic question, though, as the line of succession is secure enough. However, all the confusion the court has created goes against the very point of a succession law. The text of the law should be crystal-clear, one should not need to question who would be next in line after Grand Duke Henri's youngest son Prince Sébastien.

I have been told that the Luxemburgian Parliament (Chambre des Deputes) is currently working on a constitutional amendment that is said to regulate the succession entirely on the constitution removing it from the realm of the family pact. I really hope that the Parliament will eventually make more clarity to the matter.


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