Friday, June 23, 2017

Grand Ducal Family Celebrates National Day

Luxembourg's National Day celebrations are in full swing. As this post is published, members of the Grand Ducal Family are attending the Te Deum mass at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Last night, after the visits to Esch and Bettembourg, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa as well as Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie attended the traditional torchlight procession. (And yes, I totally had a post about it ready to go last night and planned on waiting to add pictures - but then I fell asleep, so we will just conveniently insert it here.)
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Dominique Gaul
The torchlight parade features firefighters, scouts and basically everyone who is old enough to hold it carrying (surprise, surprise) torches. (It seriously makes you wonder if there is a national shortage of torches after June 22 in Luxembourg...) In addition there are folklore and musical groups and associations performing. The torchlight procession is part of the street festival taking place in the city on the day prior to the National Day. The pre-celebrations were rounded off by a fireworks display watched by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa as well as their oldest son and daughter-in-law from the balcony of the Place de la Constitution.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
This morning, the festivities of the Grand Duke's official birthday kicked off with the not-so-new anymore official ceremony. First introduced in 2013, the secular ceremony took place at the Salle de concerts Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte, also known as the Philharmonie Luxembourg, this year. The event was attended by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa as well as Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie. Curious me can't help but wonder if the reduced attendance of family members wasn't coincidental but intentional as not to draw attention to the (possibly still pending) divorce of Prince Louis and Princess Tessy. On a brighter note: The Grand Duchess was a lovely lady in red in an outfit by Yves Dooms, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie wore a summery orange Paule Ka dress.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
In front of some 1,200 dignitaries, diplomats and deserving citiziens, the Grand Duke gave a speech saying, "On National Day, we put aside our differences of opinions. Today we look at what we have together and what our nation represents (...) Today is a day for us all, the day we stand together, celebrate together and be happy." Grand Duke Henri also spoke of the challenges faced by Luxembourg and the world stating that courage and a strong will are needed more than ever, "Our political system, featuring democracy, freedom and respect for human rights is not a matter of course." (Full speech.)
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
In addition to the Grand Duke, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and President of Parliament Mars di Bartolomeo also held speeches. Part of the official ceremony is also the awarding orders and medals to deserving citizens by the Grand Duke, Prime Minister and President of Parliament. After the end of the official ceremony, 21 canon salutes were fired from the Fetschenhof to honour the Grand Duke.
Photo: Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli
The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess as well as the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess then made their way to the Avenue de la Liberté for the military parade. Both Henri and Guillaume changed into their uniforms for the occasion. The military parade traditionally also includes representatives of the police as well as aid, emergency and security services.

More pictures of today and yesterday at the cour with more to come in a round-up post.

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