Wednesday the 13th of October saw Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg travel to the town of Verdun in the northeast of France in order to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of Verdun. The couple were accompanied by their eldest son and heir, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and his wife, Stéphanie.
Coming mid way through World War I (1914-1918), the Battle of Verdun was one of the most significant and longest of the War, lasting approximately 303 days between February 21 to December 19, 1916. Fought between the German and French armies, it is estimated that over three quarters of a million casualties resulted from this offensive alone.
The Royals, together with Luxembourgish students from the Lycée Aline Mayrisch and the Nordstad-Lycée visited two exhibitions: Que reste-t-il de la Grande Guerre? (What remains of the Great War?) and Artisans de la Paix. (Craftsmen of Peace). The first exhibition focuses on Franco-German relations in the wake of the two world wars and the second on the backstage interactions between world leaders and their governments on the international stage. The students benefitted from the educational day focusing on the study of World War I and another regional conflict at the gates of Europe; the crisis in Ukraine.
During their visit to the French town, the Luxembourgers also visited the Douaumont Ossuary which shelters the remains of more than 100,000 unknown soldiers who perished during the carnage of the battle. The couples signed the visitor’s book before Grand Duke Henri was given the honour of relighting the eternal flame in memory of those slain during the battle.
A conference given by France 3 Lorraine journalist, Laurent Parisot, and Alexandre Escorcia, the Russian CEI (Central European Initiative) Strategic and Security Affairs Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Cabinet, ended the day. The Grand Duke gave a speech at this event.