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Royal Profile: Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg

Grand Duke Jean

Jean reigned the grand duke of Luxembourg from 1964, at the time of her mother Grand Duchess Charlotte's abdication until his own in 2000. He is the father of Luxembourg’s reigning sovereign, Grand Duke Henri.

Gran Duke Jean was born on September 30, 1921, at Berg Castle, in central Luxembourg. His parents were the then-reigning Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma, who was Luxembourg’s longest-serving consort and a son of deposed Robert I, Duke of Parma.

Jean obtained his primary education in Luxembourg, proceeding to the initial phase of his secondary education, which he finished at Ampleforth College, a Roman Catholic boarding school in Great Britain. When he turned 18, he was officially recognized as the heir apparent of Luxembourg, with the style Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

Together with his family, Jean fled Luxembourg on the eve of German invasion on May 10, 1940. The country remained occupied for four years. The Grand Ducal family first settled in Paris, only to flee the country a weeks afterwards. They eventually sought refuge in Brookville, New York, where they settled on a rented estate. He then Jean took up Law and Political Science at Université Laval in Quebec.

Grand Duke Jean and Prince Felix during the liberation of Luxembourg

In 1942, upon the advice of King George VI, Jean volunteered for the British Army, where he joined the Irish Guards. After going through the officer training at Aldershot, Jean was commissioned as a Lieutenant in March 1943, before he was raised to the rank of captain in 1944.

On June 11, 1942, just five days after D-Day, he landed in Normandy where he was among the Allied armies who fought at the Battle for Caen and at the liberation of Brussels. On September 10, 1944, he joined the Allied forces in liberating Luxembourg before proceeding to Arnhem and invading of Germany.

For his service during the war, he was decorated the following honors: Luxembourg War Cross with Palm, Silver Star Medal (USA), French Croix de Guerre, Belgian Croix de Guerre, Orlogsherinneringskruis (Netherlands), 1939-1945 Star (UK), France and Germany Star (UK), Defence Medal (UK), War Medal 1939-1945 (UK), Cross Resistance (Luxembourg), Military Medal (Luxembourg).

He was eventually promoted Colonel of the Regiment of the Irish Guards in 1984, a post he held until he abdicated in 2000. The grand duke was then in attendance at the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade, often riding in uniform behind Queen Elizabeth II.

Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte
On April 9, 1953, he married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005), a daughter of Léopold III, King of the Belgians, and Princess Astrid of Sweden. Their marriage produced had three sons and two daughters:

Princess Marie-Astrid (born February 17, 1954). She was married to Archduke Carl Christian of Austria (born 1954), to whom she had five children.

Grand Duke Henri (born  April 16, 1955), who married María Teresa Mestre y Batista-Falla. They have five children, including Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume.

Prince Jean (born May 15, 1957), who first married Hélène Vestur (born 1958) in 1987, which whom he had four children. The prince renounced his rights of succession, as well that of his descendants upon their marriage because the marriage was considered morganatic. His wife and children were initially styled Count/Countess of Nassau until Prince Henri elevated their status to Prince/Princess of Nassau in 2004. Hélène, however, did not enjoy the princely title because she and Jean were already divorced before the title was upgraded. In 2009, John married Diane De Guerre.

Princess Margaretha (born May 15, 1957), the twin-sister of Jean, who married Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein (1947), son of Sovereign Prince Franz Joseph II. They have four children.

Prince Guillaume (born May 1, 1963). He married Sibilla Weiller (born 1968), daughter of Paul-Annik Weiller and of the Italian princess Donna Olimpia Torlonia di Civitella-Cesi, daughter of Spain’s Infanta Beatriz, a daughter of King King Alfonso XIII. Their four children are styled Prince(ss) of Nassau.

On November 12, 1964, Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated and Jean became the sovereign Grand Duke. He abdicated on October 7, 2000 in favor of Grand Duke Henri. Grand Duke Jean spent his remaining years at Fischbach Castle. At age of 98, he was the oldest and the longest-living current or former monarch in the world. He passed away on April 23, 2019 at the age of 98 after suffering from pulmonary infection.


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