23 April 2019

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg (1921–2019)

Grand Duke Jean at the wedding of his grandson Prince Louis in 2006. Photo: Schnékert/Wikimedia Commons.

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who served as head of state of Luxembourg from 1964 to 2000, died early in the morning of 23 April 2019, the Grand Ducal Court has announced.

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my beloved father, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean, who has passed away in peace, surrounded by the affection of his family.
Grand Duke Jean died a week after he was hospitalised for a lung infection. The exact time of death, 00.25, was given in a declaration by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, later on 23 April. A national mourning will last until the day of the funeral, 4 May 2019. The death was also formally announced in Mémorial, the Legal Gazette of Luxembourg.

Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d'Aviano, Prince of Luxembourg (as well as Prince of Bourbon-Parma and of Nassau), was born at Schloß Berg in Luxembourg on 5 January 1921 as the eldest son and child of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg (1896–1985) and Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma (1893–1970). His siblings were Elisabeth (1922–2011), Marie Adelaide (1924–2007), Marie Gabriele (b. 1925), Charles (1927–1977) and Alix (1929–2019).

Following school in Luxembourg and England, Prince Jean received the title Hereditary Grand Duke by decree of 4 January 1939 in connection with his 18th birthday the day after. When Luxembourg was invaded by German troops in 1940, Jean and his family fled to France, later to Portugal before finally being transported to the United States. He studied law and political science at the Quebec University in Canada before joining the British forces in 1942. He took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and came home to Luxembourg in September 1944. He later took part in several battles before the Germans surrendeded in May 1945. In April 1945 he welcomed his mother Grand Duchess Charlotte home to Luxembourg.

Raised to become Grand Duke and head of state of Luxembourg, Jean served as a member of the State Council for 10 years from 1951 before becoming  Lieutenant-Représentant («Lieutenant Representative», i.e. Regent) in 1961. Jean became Grand Duke upon his mother's abdication on 12 November 1964 and served until he himself abdicated on 7 October 2000 on behalf of his eldest son Henri.


Grand Duke Jean, 1967. Photo: Ron Kroon/Wikimedia Commons.

The then Hereditary Grand Duke Jean married on 9 April 1953 Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005), daughter of King Leopold III of the Belgians (1901–1934–1951–1983) and Queen Astrid, née Princess of Sweden (1905–1935). They had 5 children – Marie Astrid, b. 1954, Henri, b. 1955, Jean and Margaretha, b. 1957, and Guillaume, b. 1963 – and 22 grandchildren. (Someone else has to give the total number of great-grandchildren!)

As Grand Duke Jean's great-grandfather Grand Duke Adolf (1839–1905), formerly Duke of Nassau, was an elder brother of Princess Sophie (Sofia) (1836–1912), who in 1857 married Prince Oscar of Sweden, later King Oscar II, Jean was a third cousin of King Harald V of Norway. At the same time Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte was a first cousin of King Harald as their mothers Astrid and Märtha née Princess of Sweden were sisters. From this follows that Grand Duke Henri and the future King of Norway, Haakon, are 2nd cousins.

Then people of Luxembourg is mournng their beloved former head of state and war hero. He held the same position in Luxembourg as Queen Elizabeth II does in the United Kingdom – even if he had retired, he «had always been there» for generations of people. Loyally he spent his whole life in service of his country. «Der stille Monarch», «the quiet Monarch», as Luxemburger Wort writes today. «Er war ein großes Stück Luxemburg» («He was a large piece of Luxembourg»), as one citizen expressed earlier today. «He was one of us», has also been said. Someone the people could identify themselves with. Both royal and distant and close at the same time.

An epoch has reached its end.

Obituary in Telegraph.co.uk  23 April 2019: Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, benevolent ruler who served in Normandy landings, took part in the liberation of the Grand Duchy and had close ties to Britain – obituary

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