A period of national mourning is now underway in Luxembourg as people across the country remember Grand Duke Jean who has died at the age of 98. The former Head of State passed away in the early hours of April 23rd 2019. The mourning period will last until 6pm on Saturday May 4th 2019, the day of his funeral.
Grand Duke Jean, who was 98, died in hospital following a pulmonary infection. He had been undergoing treatment for a week but his health declined rapidly over the weekend. His son, Grand Duke Henri, announced his death in a short statement just after dawn on April 23rd, saying that his father had been surrounded by the love of his family as he passed away.
Just hours later, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, gathered the country’s cabinet together for an extraordinary meeting. A minute’s silence was held for Grand Duke Jean before national mourning was declared. The country’s Chamber of Deputies suspended its sitting, planned for Tuesday afternoon, as a mark of respect and also confirmed that the debate on the country’s budget, due to take place today, would be put off until tomorrow. Flags across Luxembourg are flying at half mast.
Tributes came from many of the country’s politicians. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, himself from Luxembourg, described Grand Duke Jean’s death as ”a great loss for the Grand Duchy and for Europe”. He said ‘‘like all the people of Luxembourg, I had great esteem for this man of commitment, kindness and courage” and added that his country owed him a huge amount.
Meanwhile, tributes poured in from across Luxembourg. Xavier Bettel was visibly moved as he spoke of Grand Duke Jean. Remembering his active service in World War Two, he said “Grand Duke Jean fought for our freedom, for our independence and for the unity of our country and we will always be grateful. A family man left us today. A great statement, a hero, an example – and a very beloved and gracious man.”
The Archbishop of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Hollereich, paid tribute to Grand Duke Jean who he said was always ”aware of his highest responsibility”. He added that Luxembourg had ”lost a man who lived a lifetime in the service of our homeland”
The Mayor of Luxembourg City, Lydie Polfer, paid tribute in a Twitter video. She spoke of Grand Duke Jean as a ”symbol of unity”, filled with kindness and a willingness to listen to everyone.
As the national period of mourning got under way, representatives from other nations paid their own tributes while embassies in Luxembourg also lowered their flags to half mast.
Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, January 5th 1921 – April 23rd 2019