National Day, also called the Grand Duke’s Official Birthday, was celebrated yesterday in Luxembourg. It occurs every year on the 23 June. Ironically, this day has not been the birthday of any ruler of Luxembourg.
On Wednesday night, the Grand Ducal Family participated in pre-National Day festivities. Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, Princess Alexandra, Prince Sébastien, Prince Louis, and Princess Tessy were all in attendance. The events included the traditional torchlight procession and fireworks, changing of the guard in front of Grand Ducal Palace, and wreath laying by the Grand Duke and Duchess at the Monument to the Dead.
Yesterday, the Grand Ducal Family participated in various events. The day began at a celebration for Grand Duke Henri where numerous government officials were in attendance. Afterwards, salute to Henri was given by the shot of 21 cannons. The Grand Duke and Duchess were accompanied by the Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess at the ceremonial parade where the Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duke inspected the troops. Later, a Te Deum mass was held with the entire royal family in attendance at Notre-Dame Cathedral. In the evening, a reception was held at the Grand Ducal Palace with the royal family, government officials, members of the office of the Chamber of Deputies, members of the State Council, senior representatives of the Judiciary, the Heads of Directors and Heads of diplomatic missions accredited to the Head of State all in attendance.
The Grand Duke’s Official Birthday began under William I, where the day was celebrated on the 24 April, even though his birthday was not until the 25 August. When William II reigned, the day was celebrated on his actual birthday of 6 December. Under William III, the date was celebrated on 17 June until 1859 when it was changed until 19 February – two days after William III’s actual birthday. It was made a national holiday in 1947, but the date was not made official until 1961 by the Ducal decree of Grand Duchess Charlotte – the grandmother of the current Grand Duke, Henri. Originally, it had been planned to celebrate Charlotte’s birthday in January. However, she decided to move it to June so that the celebration would occur in better weather conditions.