|Photo: Casa de S.M. el Rey|
Pope Francis received the Charlemagne Prize today and Grand Duke Henri was one of those attending the award ceremony at the Vatican. The International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen is considered one of the most prestigious European prizes and recognises distinguished services on behalf of European unity. The Pope was honoured for the message of peace and understanding promoted in his papacy with the jury stating, "In these times, in which many European citizens are seeking guidance, the Holy Father gives a message of love and encouragement."
The Charlemagne Prize is usually handed out in Aachen, the residence and burial place of the ruler of the Frankish Empire and founder of what became the Holy Roman Empire - and thus a forefather of European unity. However, this year the ceremony moved to the Vatican for the Holy Father. Other heads of state attending included King Felipe VI of Spain, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, and the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, as well as various European dignitaries. Way more information about the Prize and the ceremony at the Official Vatican Network.
Fun fact: Grand Duke Henri is also awardee of the Charlemagne Prize - well, sort of... In 1986, the Charlemagne Prize was awarded to the people of Luxembourg for "their exemplary and persevering efforts in the interest of the union of the peoples of Europe". So basically every living Luxembourger born prior to the day is an awardee of the prestigious Charlemagne Prize. And so it's no surprise the Grand Duke actually wore the medal of the Prize for today's ceremony.