Thursday, 16 April 2015

60th Birthday of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg

HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and HRH Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxemburg.

His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri, eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, was born on 16th April 1955 in Betzdorf Castle, Luxembourg. He is the sixth sovereign of the Nassau-Weilburg dynasty after the personal union between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands ended with the death of King/Grand Duke William III in 1890.

After World War I Luxembourg did not follow the unfortunate example of the German neighbours, but retained the Monarchy. In a referendum on 28th September 1919 a vast majority voted in favour of the Monarchy. Since then the grand-ducal family has preserved its legitimacy amongst Luxembourg society because it has been able to gain its trust in the most difficult moments: the resistance movement during the Second World War, of which Grand Duchess Charlotte was a central figure, is one of the most significant examples. Her return 70 years ago on 14th April 1945 set a landmark to the liberation of the country.

In addition to Lëtzebuergesch, Grand Duke Henri speaks French, English, German and has some knowledge of Spanish. He attended secondary school in Luxembourg and France, where he successfully gained his baccalaureate in 1974. He then went on to study at Geneva University (Switzerland), graduating in political science in 1980. HRH the Grand Duke was proclaimed Honorary Doctor (Humane Letters) of the Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut (USA) and Honorary Doctor in Law of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (USA). Furthermore, he was declared Honorary Doctor in economics of the University of Khon Kaen (Thailand), Honorary Doctor in politics of the University of Trier (Germany) and the University of León (Nicaragua).

In April 2012 Lieutenants Alexander von Österreich-Este and Wenceslas von Nassau graduated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where Grad Duke Henri was the guest of honour.
In 1974, Prince Henri enrolled at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, Great Britain, which awarded him his officer’s commission in 1975. Since 1989, he has been an honorary major in the United Kingdom’s Parachute Regiment. The Gand Duke commands the Luxembourg armed forces and holds the title of general.

The grand ducal couple with their children (left to right) Félix, Sébastien, Louis, Alexandra and Guillaume.
On 14th February 1981, he married Cuban-born Maria Teresa Mestre who also graduated in political science from Geneva University in 1980. Their Royal Highnesses have four sons and one daughter: Prince Guillaume (born 11th November 1981), Prince Félix (born 3rd June 1984), Prince Louis (born 3rd August 1986), Princess Alexandra (born 16th February 1991) and Prince Sébastien (born 16th April 1992).

As Honorary President of the Board of Economic Development, founded in 1977, the Prince led many trade missions throughout the world to promote the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as an investment centre. From 1980 to 1998, in his quality as Hereditary Grand Duke, he was a member of the Council of State, which enabled him to familiarise himself with the legislative machinery of the Grand Duchy.

Accession of HRH Grand Duke Henri on 7th October 2000.
On 4th March 1998, in accordance with Article 42 of the Constitution, he was appointed lieutenant representative of HRH the Grand Duke Jean. On 7th October 2000, he succeeded his father Grand Duke Jean after the latter had abdicated, thus becoming Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

The grand-duke's youngest son, HRH Prince Sébastien, also celebrates his 23rd birthday today.

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