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Monarchy

Grand Ducal Palace

Luxembourg is the only remaining Grand Duchy in the world and the history of House of Luxembourg can be traced back to the year 963. Read more about the several dynasties in the “ Short History of Luxembourg ” page. Luxembourg is a constitutional Monarchy and the sovereign power resides in the Nation.

H.R.H. Grand Duke Adolphe (1817-1905) became the first sovereign of the current Dynasty of Luxembourg and, since then, his descendants have succeeded him to the throne. His eldest son, William IV (1852-1912), was appointed Lieutenant Representative in 1902 and succeeded his father when Grand Duke Adolphe passed away on 17 November 1905. Grand Duke William IV died in 1912 and having foreseen the problem of succession, he promulgated a new family statute in 1907 allowing his eldest daughter, Princess Marie-Adelaide, to be declared heiress to the throne. On 18 June 1912, Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide (1894-1924) became the first sovereign born on Luxembourg soil since John the Blind in 1296. Two years later, German troops invaded the Grand Duchy and violated its neutrality during the First World War. After a tumultuous period and violent disturbances aimed against the monarchy, the Grand Duchess abdicated in favour of her younger sister Charlotte on 9 January 1919.

H.R.H. Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985) reigned from 1919-1964 during 45 years. On 28 September 1919, a dual referendum was held and 77,8% of the population voted in favour of the dynasty under the reign of Grand Duchess Charlotte. She married Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma on 6 November 1919. During WWII, the Grand Duchess and her Government in exile stayed in London. In November 1942, the Hereditary Grand Duke Jean joined the British Army as a volunteer in the Irish Guards Regiment and received his military training at the Royal Military College in Aldershot. He took part in his unit’s landing on 11 June 1944 in Normandy and was present at the Battle of Caen and the liberation of Brussels on 3 September 1944. On 10 September 1944, he crossed the Luxembourg border with his father and the American troops that liberated the Grand Duchy during the Battle of the Bulge. After the liberation of Luxembourg, Grand Duchess Charlotte returned to Luxembourg on 14 April 1945. The 1950s and 60s were a prosperous period for the country and on 9 April 1953, the Hereditary Grand Duke Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium. On 12 November 1964, Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated in favour of her eldest son.

H.R.H. Grand Duke Jean reigned during 36 years and abdicated in favour of his son in 2000. The current Grand Duke Henri ascended the throne on 7 October 2000. Grand Duke Jean passed away on 23 April 2019 at the age of 98 and had become the world’s oldest living monarch by the time of his death.   

The Grand Ducal family

© Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli

A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY

Luxembourg is a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy. Article 1 of the Constitution declares that the Grand Duchy is a “free, independent and indivisible democratic State”. Article 51 indicates that it is ruled by a system of parliamentary democracy. The sovereign power resides in the nation. The head of State exercises the powers that the Constitution and laws expressly confer upon him.

THE HEAD OF STATE

During the accession to the throne, the Grand Duke takes the following oath in the presence of members the Chamber of Deputies or a deputation that it has appointed: “I swear to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and to maintain the national independence and integrity of the territory, as well as public and individual liberties.” (Article 5).

According to Article 33 of the Constitution, the Grand Duke is “the Head of State, symbol of its unity and guarantor of national independence. He exercises the executive power in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the country”.

The Grand Duke represents the State in its foreign relations and ratifies treaties ensuring that the interests of the State and the Luxembourgish citizens are protected. The Grand Duke’s regulatory power consists in taking the Grand-Ducal regulations and administrative orders required for the execution of the laws and treaties. Justice is delivered in the name of the Grand Duke, however the head of State doesn’t have the right to intervene in the exercise of judicial power.

The Constitution reserves the prerogative of pardon for the Grand Duke, which means the right to reconsider or reduce the sentences handed down by judges, the right to mint coins in accordance with the law, the right to confer titles of nobility without being able to attach any privileges to these titles, as well as the right to confer honorary titles in civil and military orders.

SYMBOLS OF THE DYNASTY

The symbols of the dynasty reflect the history and the values of the reigning Grand-Ducal family.

THE COAT OF ARMS  

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The coat of arms of Luxembourg finds its origins in the Middle ages. When acceding to the throne in the year 2000, Grand Duke Henri changed the small, median and great coat of arms which replaced those used since 1898 by Grand Duke Adolphe. The coat of arms is confined to the essential elements, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the House of Nassau.

GRAND DUCAL ANTHEM

“De Wilhelmus” is the grand ducal anthem of the House of Luxembourg. The “Heemecht”, our Homeland, is the anthem of the nation. The first text of “De Wilhelmus” in Luxembourgish was written by Willy Goergen in 1915 to commemorate the centenary of the Congress of Vienna. Nikolaus Welter created an anthem and adapted it for the wedding of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma in 1919. The anthem of the grand ducal House is inspired by a trumpet call or cavalry fanfare, of which the earliest written trace dates from the 16th century.

NATIONAL DAY

The national holiday is the commemoration of the day of birth of the sovereign. With Grand Duke Adolphe’s accession to the throne in 1890, the national holiday was established as 24 July. During his son William IV’s reign, the national day was moved to 22 April. From 1913 the national day festivities were held on 14 June, Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde’s birthday.

With Grand Duchess Charlotte’s accession to the throne in 1919, 23 January became the birthday celebration. In 1947, her birth date was declared a legal public holiday. A grand ducal decree of 23 December 1961 fixes the public celebrations of the Sovereign’s Birth date on 23 June, irrespective of his actual day of birth.

Read more about the “ Symbols of the state and the nation”