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Twenty Years of Rule: Henri and his heir

The year 2020 hasn’t been a year of celebration for much of the world. However, the tiny European Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has had two reasons to celebrate. Reigning Grand Duke Henri celebrated 20 years on the throne, and his heir, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and his wife, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie welcomed a son, Charles into the world. This much-longed-for child, after eight years of marriage, ensures that the House of Nassau – which marks 130 years of rule this year – will continue for another generation.

Grand Duke Henri

© Grand Ducal Court / Sophie Margue

Prince Henri was born on 16 April 1955 in Betzdorf Castle in Luxembourg as the second child and eldest son of Hereditary Grand Duke Jean and his wife, Hereditary Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte (born a Princess of Belgium). Upon the abdication of his grandmother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, he became heir apparent with the title of Hereditary Grand Duke in 1964.

Henri was educated in Luxembourg and France, and he completed his education at the University of Geneva studying political science. He undertook military officer training at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

While studying in Geneva, he met Cuban born Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista, and the couple married in 1981 in Luxembourg. Their civil ceremony was on 4 February and a Catholic ceremony on 14 February. They have five children: Prince Guillaume, Prince Félix, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sébastien. The couple also has five grandchildren.

Hereditary Grand Duke Henri came to the throne on 7 October 2000 on the abdication of his father, Grand Duke Jean. As Grand Duke, he holds a mainly ceremonial position; however, he retains the power to appoint the Prime Minister, dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and promulgate laws. In 2008, a bill was passed to legalise euthanasia. Due to his Catholic beliefs, Henri would not give his assent to the bill, so an amendment to the constitution was made to enable him to be temporarily declared unable to reign so the law could pass.

Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Prince Guillaume was born on 11 November 1981 at the Grand Duchess Charlotte Maternity Hospital in Luxembourg City and is the eldest child of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. He has been educated in Luxembourg and at boarding schools in Switzerland. He also studied in the United Kingdom where he undertook his military training at Sandhurst and other studies at two universities. He completed his education in Switzerland where he studied philosophy, anthropology and political science.

He became heir apparent in 2000 on the abdication of his grandfather, Grand Duke Jean. If he becomes Grand Duke as expected, he will be Guillaume V. He is the patron of the Luxembourg Cycling Sport Federation, Youth Hostels Central, National Association of Road Victims, Chamber Orchestra of Luxembourg, Youth Harmony Orchestra of the European Union, Young Entrepreneurs Luxembourg and the Special Olympics Luxembourg Association. He is the honorary chairman of the Board of Economic Development and has been a member of the Council of State since 2005. Additionally, he is a member of the Luxembourg Scout Movement and is on the board of directors of the World Scout Federation.

© Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

Guillaume is interested in music and sports. He plays the piano and enjoys football, swimming and volleyball. He speaks Luxembourgish, French, German, English and Spanish. He regularly represents his parents in many foreign activities.

On 26 April 2012, his engagement was announced to Belgian Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy. The couple were married in a civil ceremony on 19 October 2012 and a Catholic ceremony in Luxembourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral on October 20. The couple welcomed their first child, Prince Charles, on 10 May 2020.

Prince Charles of Luxembourg

Charles Jean Philippe Joseph Marie Guillaume was born on 10 May 2020 at the Grand Duchess Charlotte Maternity Hospital in Luxembourg City. He is the only child of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and is second in line for the throne of Luxembourg.

© Grand Ducal Court / Sophie Margue

He was baptised at the Abbey of St Maurice and St Maurus of Clervaux in Luxembourg. He is the youngest person to have a biography on Wikipedia, but more will be added to his story and the story of the monarchy of Luxembourg in the coming years.