Queen Elizabeth II has sent a heartfelt message of condolence to the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg following the death of the country’s former monarch, Grand Duke Jean.
Her Majesty’s message was addressed to Grand Duke Henri and spoke of the fond memories she has of Jean who died earlier this week at the age of 98.
The Queen said in full: “I was tremendously saddened to learn of the death of your father Grand Duke Jean who served your country so well and for so many years.
“I have very fond memories of your father, including from the time he spent in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.
“As you know, wishing to contribute to the liberation of his country, he volunteered for the British Army, serving with distinction in the Irish Guards of which he was later to become Colonel of the Regiment.
“Your father will be greatly missed, both inside and outside Luxembourg. Prince Philip and I offer Your Royal Highness and the people of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg our most profound condolences. Elizabeth R.”
As mentioned in The Queen’s message, Grand Duke Jean served the British Army with distinction in the Second World War, alongside his father, Prince Felix.
Jean joined the Irish Guards on the advice of King George VI of the United Kingdom and, after some preliminary training (in which the Prince served under the name of “John Luxembourg”), completed his military education at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Jean was commissioned as a lieutenant on 28 July 1943 and addressed the people of Luxembourg via BBC radio that afternoon.
In August 1943, the Prince continued his training at the Guards’ training battalion at Lingfield. During this time, he served as a guard at Buckingham Palace. He remembers well his mother and sisters’ ‘visit’ while on duty, having to remain motionless the whole time. In February 1944, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Irish Guards at the Guards Armoured Division based at Malton, Yorkshire. This is where the battalion received training for the Normandy landings on D-Day. On 3 March 1944, Prince Jean was promoted to the rank of captain.
Following the war, Prince Jean was dispatched to Berlin, where he became particularly concerned about the deported Luxembourg nationals and the question of their repatriation. His Royal Highness then returned to the service of representing the interests of Luxembourg within Europe and overseas. An athletic young man, Jean practised fencing, tennis, swimming, and skiing, later patronising several Luxembourgish organisations devoted to sports as well serving as a member of the International Olympics Committee from the close of World War II until the 1990s. Prince Jean also had a keen interest in the environment, particularly in the preservation of native vegetation and animal life. His Royal Highness also developed an interest in the American West, spending considerable time in Arizona and Wyoming.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom appointed Grand Duke Jean a Colonel of the Regiment of the Irish Guards on 21 August 1984, and from this period to his abdication, His Royal Highness could often be seen riding behind The Queen in uniform during the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade. Queen Elizabeth later made the Grand Duke an Honorary General of the British Army on 17 March 1995.