Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Grand Duke Jean Passes Away Aged 98

Grand Duke Jean passed away peacefully, the cour grand-ducale has sadly announced at 6am this morning. He died surrounded by his family at 12.25am on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Luxembourg's former head of state had been in hospital since Saturday, April 13, with a pulmonary infection. While his condition initially improved, it had been in decline since last Saturday night. All of Team Luxarazzi is immensely saddened be these news and our thoughts and prayers are with the members of the Grand Ducal Family and the whole of the Grand Duchy at this moment in time. 
Grand Duke Jean celebrating his 98th birthday alongside his family in January of this year
(Photo: Claude Piscitelli / Cour grand-ducale)
Grand Duke Jean was one of the formative figures of 20th century Luxembourg. He was born on January 5, 1921, to Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix just a few years after the country's abdication crisis. Growing up at Château de Berg, Prince Jean was educated in Luxembourg before he went on to attend Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, a Catholic boarding school. In 1939, on his 18th birthday Prince Jean was named The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, a title he would hold until he succeeded his mother on the throne many years later. A year after Hereditary Grand Duke Jean reached maturity, German troops invaded Luxembourg in the course of the Second World War in the morning hours of May 10, 1940.

After fleeing Luxembourg via France, Spain, Portugal and the United States to Canada to continue his education, Hereditary Grand Duke Jean joined the Irish Guards as a volunteer to be able to fight in the war. After being trained at the Royal Military College in Aldershot in the United Kingdom, he was commissioned into the Irish Guards as a Lieutenant in March 1943 and in 1944 promoted to captain. On June 11, 1944, he landed in the Normandy. As part of the 32nd brigade of the Guards Armoured Division, he took part in the Battle of Caens and the Liberation of Brussels before finally crossing the Luxembourgish border for the first time since he and his family had to flee years earlier on September 10. Together with his father Prince Felix, he was greeted by the cheers of the masses and carried on the shoulders of the Luxembourgish people. Soon after, he rejoined his regiment to free other parts of Europe from Nazi rule.

Following the end of World War II, Hereditary Grand Duke Jean took a greater public role within the Grand Duchy to help rebuild the country after the war. On April 9, 1953, he married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, oldest child and only daughter of King Léopold III of the Belgians and his wife née Princess Astrid of Sweden. The couple went on to have five children: Princess Marie-Astrid, Grand Duke Henri, Prince Jean, Princess Margaretha and Prince Guillaume. 

On April 28, 1961, Hereditary Grand Duke Jean was appointed as Lieutenant Representative by his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, meaning that he assumed most of his mother's constitutional powers. Upon Grand Duchess Charlotte's abdication on November 12, 1964, he ascended to the throne as Grand Duke Jean I of Luxembourg and took the constitutional oath before the Chamber of Deputies later that day. He would go on to reign the Grand Duchy for 36 years. 

On Christmas Eve 1999, Grand Duke Jean announced his plans to abdicate in favour of his oldest son Henri. With a delay due to a heavy car accident of Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla, Grand Duke Jean finally officially abdicated on October 7, 2000. Two years before he had already created his oldest son his Lieutenant Representative. Since his abdication, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte enjoyed a quiet life at Château de Fischbach. Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte predeceased her husband having died in 2005 after suffering from cancer. 

Grand Duke Jean continued to make several public appearances each year supporting causes close to his heart. We saw him make his last public appearance in late March when he attended the Mérite Jeunesse alongside his youngest son Prince Guillaume and granddaughter Princess Charlotte.

Grand Duke Jean passed away at the age of 98. He leaves behind five children, 21 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

To learn more about the life of Grand Duke Jean please have a look here and about his military career  in World War II here.

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