Luxembourg’s Grand Duke dies, 98
Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Jean, who helped transform the tiny state into an affluent financial centre before handing the crown to his son, has died aged 98.
Luxembourg is one of the smallest states in the European Union but also the wealthiest in terms of per capita GDP.
Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano was born in 1921, the eldest child of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix.
His youth was overshadowed by the Second World War when his family sought refuge in the United States and Canada.
Jean returned to Europe in 1942 to trained at the British Army’s Sandhurst academy. He served as a guard at Buckingham Palace in London before joining Allied forces in Normandy in 1944.
The officer took part in the D-Day landings (pictured) and the liberation of Luxembourg from the Nazis.
Jean also fought in the battle of Caen.
After the war, he married Belgian princess Josephine Charlotte and they had five children. He became the country’s sixth grand duke when his mother Charlotte abdicated in 1964.
During his 36 years on the throne Luxembourg turned from an economic backwater into an international financial centre.
Jean’s eldest son Henri took on most of his duties in 1998 and he stepped down as head of state in the tiny state of around 500,000 citizens in 2000.
His decision to step down at 79 followed a precedent set by his mother.
Grand Duke Henri announced the death. His statement said: “It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my beloved father, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean, who has passed away in peace, surrounded by the affection of his family.”
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy in which legislation requires the grand duke’s signature to become law.
The head of state’s constitutional role is largely ceremonial and in 2008 parliamentarians further restricted the role by rescinding the head of state’s right to veto bills.
European Commission president and former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker praised Jean’s “commitment, kindness and courage”. “Throughout his reign, and in all circumstances, [the grand duke] gave the best of himself to his country, which owes him so much. His death is a great loss for the Grand Duchy and for Europe.”
Grand Duke Jean was one of the few heads of state to take part in the D-Day landings. Picture credit: Wikimedia