For the first time since 2015, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa were surrounded by all five of their children and their daughters-in-law to celebrate Luxembourg’s National Day. The National Day is 23 June and marks the Grand Duke’s official birthday – as his actual birthday is on 16 April.
As usual, the celebrations started on the day before the actual National Day. On Friday, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited Larochette. The Grand Ducal Couple had the opportunity to meet many inhabitants of the city while visiting a daycare centre as well as a youth centre and the old quarter of Larochette. They also attended a multicultural celebration at the end of the afternoon after Grand Duke Henri awarded honorary distinctions.
At the same time, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie were making their traditional visit to Esch-Sur-Alzette. They attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial before taking part in the official procession to reach the Town Hall. There, they watched the parade of around forty associations based in Esch-Sur-Alzette. The Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple greeted citizens from the balcony of the Town Hall and attended the Escher Volleksfest, where they lit the traditional campfire of the Luxembourg scouts.
Afterwards, both couples went back to Luxembourg City where they were joined by Prince Félix, Princess Claire, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sébastien to attend the torch lights parade and the traditional fireworks.
On Saturday, the entire Grand Ducal Family attended the official civil ceremony at the Philarmonie. During the ceremony, the Grand Duke, the President of the Chamber of Deputies Mars Di Bartolomeo, and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel made speeches and awarded honorary distinctions to prominent figures of the civilian world.
In his speech, Grand Duke Henri said: “There are many reasons to celebrate together and especially
to be proud of what our country represents today: We are a nation respected for its role in Europe and in the world. We are a multicultural nation, where people from all walks of life live together in an exemplary way. We are an open and modern society, giving a chance to everyone to flourish, whether in professional, social or political life. We are a tolerant nation and respectful of everyone’s dignity. We are a peaceful nation, with little exposure to extremist rhetoric. We are a naturally united nation.”
Afterwards, Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie attended the official military parade. Traditionally, only the Grand Duke, the Hereditary Grand Duke, and their spouses attend the military parade, but this year, Prince Sébastien attended, too. After his graduation at the Royal Academy of Sandhurst last year, Prince Sébastien joined the Luxembourg Army as Lieutenant – hence why he was also present at the parade. Prince Sébastien is the second of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa’s children to join the Luxembourg Army following in Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume’s footsteps.
During the ceremony, Grand Duke Henri and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume reviewed the troops.
In the afternoon, the members of the Grand Ducal Family attended a Te Deum service at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg. Te Deum is an interreligious ceremony celebrated by the Catholic archbishop of Luxembourg, the chief rabbi of Luxembourg, the imam of the Muslim community and an Anglican priest.
In the evening, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa hosted a gala dinner at the Grand Ducal Palace. It is the first time since 2015 that the Grand Duchess, the Hereditary Grand Duchess, Princess Claire and Princess Alexandra wore their orders for this gala dinner. They wore the orders the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau except for Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Princess Claire who wore Luxembourg’s second highest order, the Order of Civil and Military Merit of Adolph of Nassau as they are not born members of the Grand Ducal family.
While the male members of the family always wear their orders for this gala dinner, it is unusual that the women wear them, too. In 2015, the Court had released official photos of the family taken after the National Day gala dinner – hence why it was suggested that they had worn their orders for the official images afterwards. So we can suppose that the Court might release official photos of the family in a few days or weeks although this has not been confirmed.