Monday, April 17, 2017

Luxarazzi 101: Prince Charles of Luxembourg

Our fourth profile in the lives of the children of Grand Duchess Charlotte is the second son and fifth child, Charles. The only brother of Grand Duke Jean, Charles was the first member of the Grand Ducal Family to marry a commoner - and the first to marry a spouse who had been previously divorced. Sadly, he was also the only child of Charlotte's to predecease her, passing away suddenly at the early age of 49. 

Born at Château de Berg on August 7, 1927, Charles Frédéric Louis Guillaume Marie was christened honor of his great-grandfather, Duke Charles III of Parma, and grandfather Grand Duke Wilhelm (Guillaume) IV. He joined his siblings Jean, Elisabeth, Marie-Adelaide and Marie-Gabrielle in the household. His sister Alix was born in 1929, rounding out the family.
The charitable stamp series of Charles
As was standard among the grand ducal children, Charles was the subject of a series of stamps issued in 1930. This series was created to benefit Caritas, a Catholic charity with the mission of assisting the poor throughout the world. During his early childhood Charles was educated at home with his siblings by private tutors and experienced a relatively stable childhood. He and his younger sister Alix had their joint First Holy Communion in 1938.

In his early teens Charles began attending school in Brussels with his sisters Elisabeth and Marie-Adelaide. The three were visiting in the home of their aunt Zita, the former Austrian Empress, when the Germans invaded Belgium in May 1940. The remainder of the Grand Ducal Family escaped Luxembourg and joined Charles and his siblings in Brussels. The combined families made their way through France, Spain, and finally to Portugal ahead of German forces.

Charles (l.) with Princes Felix and Jean
after landing in the United States
Photo credit: Getty Images
Charles, his siblings, his grandmother Maria Ana, and Prince Felix left Lisbon on July 15, 1940, aboard the American military cruiser USS Trenton. Felix had been granted transport to the United States by President Franklin Roosevelt. Grand Duchess Charlotte had elected to stay in Portugal at least temporarily, saying what must have been a a difficult good-bye to her mother, husband, and children. The family arrived in the United States a little over a week later and settled permanently in the Canadian province of Quebec in the early fall of 1940. 

Prince Felix (and briefly Grand Duchess Charlotte) remained in Montreal with the Luxembourg government in exile, all six of the grand ducal children continued their schooling 250 kilometers northeast in Quebec City. Hereditary Grand Duke Jean attended classes at Laval University, while all four of the grand ducal daughters were students at the Laval-associated Collège de Jésus Marie de Sillery. Charles attended the Jesuit College (now known as St. Charles Garnier Collège), a secondary school also affiliated with the university. The family made a permanent move to London in 1943, where Charles and his siblings volunteered with the British Red Cross. 

Charles did make various appearances during the war, both in public and at family events. Charles was present at a mass for his grandmother, Grand Duchess Maria Ana, who died in New York City in July 1942. Charles also appeared occasionally at official events for the Grand Duchy, including the 1940 World's Fair with his father and siblings and at the 700th anniversary celebration of Luxembourg's freedom charter in 1944. Charles presented a copy of the freedom charter to Matthew Woll, president of the Friends of Luxembourg association. 

Charles in his army days
Charles and his sisters Elisabeth, Marie-Adelaide, and Marie-Gabrielle returned to Luxembourg on April 17, 1945, driving in a supply convoy of trucks and ambulances donated by the British Red Cross. Prince Felix and Hereditary Grand Duke Jean had participated in the Allied liberation of the Grand Duchy earlier in the month, making their permanent return three days previously along with Grand Duchess Charlotte and Princess Alix, who was too young to drive in the convoy. The entire family was welcomed with great excitement by the people of Luxembourg. In the immediate aftermaths of World War II, Charles helped his father in his work repatriating Luxembourg's deportees and concentration camp survivors.

Following his return to Grand Duchy, Charles served in the Luxembourg Army concurrently with attending the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. During that time Charles was known for providing rides between Belgium and Luxembourg for his fellow Luxembourgish classmates. During this time Charles was also touted by the English-speaking press as a possible husband for Britain's Princess Margaret, but it is unclear if or how the two even knew one another. Charles graduated from Louvain in 1952 with a degree in political and social sciences, after which time he continued his military service.

Charles spent much of the 1950s and 1960s serving the Grand Duchy in some aspect of commerce or government service. He served as one of the Luxembourg delegates to the United Nations General Assembly in 1957. Between 1959 and 1961, he was the chairman of the Luxembourg Board of Industrial Development, where he spent much of his time in New York City courting American businesses to invest in Luxembourg. By all accounts, Charles' venture was quite successful, both for Luxembourg - and himself. It was during Charles' time in New York that he met his future wife, Joan Dillon.

Joan was the daughter of US Treasury Secretary Clarence Douglas Dillon and his wife, Phyllis. Like Charles, Joan had a privileged upbringing that included an education at Vassar College and a formal society debut in 1952. Joan lived for a time in Paris, where her father was the US Ambassador to France from 1953 to 1957. She married the next year to financial heir James B. Moseley with whom she had a daughter, also named Joan. The couple divorced just two years later.

Charles and Joan with their children
Charlotte (top) and Robert
Charles' relationship with Joan was thought to begin around 1958 in New York. Marriage was not considered possible at first, as no commoner had ever married into the Grand Ducal Family. Joan's divorce made the matter even more complicated, as being a divorcée was still quite frowned upon during the time, both socially and in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

As time went on, it was clear that the couple's relationship had deepened. Joan obtained an annulment of her first marriage in 1963, which allowed her to marry again within the Catholic Church. But the issue would not be forced until early 1967 when Joan became pregnant and marriage was seen as necessary.

The engagement between Charles and Joan was announced on February 10, 1967. An "early spring" wedding was said to be anticipated. Less than three weeks later, on March 1, the couple married at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Edward the Confessor in Guilford, a town in Surrey, southeast England. The wedding was attended by Charles' parents and siblings as well as Joan's parents and conducted by Rev. Dr. Gordon Albion. Charles' brother Grand Duke Jean and Joan's father stood as witnesses.  

After the wedding, Charles and Joan returned to New York City where their daughter was born on September 15. The little girl was christened Charlotte Phyllis Marie, in honor of both of her grandmothers. The couple moved to Luxembourg shortly after, joining Charles' parents, his sister Elisabeth, and her two children living at Château de Fischbach Castle. Grand Duchess Charlotte had abdicated a few years' prior in favour of Grand Duke Jean. Charles' and Joan's son Robert was born there on August 14, 1968, and later described the atmosphere as being "akin to a mini Downton Abbey, but without all of the pomp and grandeur. Our lifestyle was very simple and down to earth, but with a permanent staff and infrastructure that are now part of a bygone era."

Joan and Charles spent a quiet few years in the Grand Duchy, regularly appearing at official events. Charles also served as a member of the State Council of Luxembourg starting in 1969. When Prince Felix died the following year, Charles inherited his father's Tuscan vacation home, the Villa Reale d'Imbarcati in Pistoia, near Florence. The villa had been part of the immense estate of Felix's father, Robert of Parma.
Villa Reale d'Imbarcati of Pistoia
Photo: Il Tirreno
Five years later, Joan inherited the position of head Domaine Clarence Dillon, a French wine company that had been in the family for several decades. The Domaine also owned multiple Bordeaux estates and vineyards. The family spent much of the early 1970s renovating the various chateaux and replacing outdated equipment on the Domaine's properties.

But the family's quiet life was unfortunately short-lived. Charles died on July 26, 1977, of a sudden heart attack at the Villa Reale d'Imbarcati in Pistoia less than two weeks shy of his fiftieth birthday. The Grand Ducal Family was to experience a second tragic passing in a short amount of time. Franz of Hohenburg, the estranged husband of his sister Elisabeth, died just twenty days later on August 16. Charles' funeral was held on July 30. Along with his wife and children, Charles' mother, siblings, and their children in attendance. Royal representatives (and more distant family members) from various countries were also present. He was buried in the grand ducal crypt at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Luxembourg.

A year after Charles' death, Joan remarried to the Duke of Mouchy on August 3, 1978, in the US state of Maine. The couple continued their management of Domaine Clarence Dillon until their retirement early 2000s. Prince Robert has run Domaine Clarence Dillon since his mother's retirement in 2008, with both Joan and Charlotte serving as members of the board (Philippe, Duke of Mouchy died in 2011). Charles has six grandchildren by his two children.

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