Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Henri (French: Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume,[2] pronounced [ɑ̃ʀi]; German: Heinrich; born 16 April 1955) is the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. He has reigned since 7 October 2000. Henri, the eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, is a first cousin of King Philippe of Belgium. In 2019, Henri's net worth was estimated around US$4 billion.[3]

Grand Duke Henri in 2019
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Reign7 October 2000 – present
Heir apparentGuillaume
Prime ministersJean-Claude Juncker
Xavier Bettel
Regency3 March 1998 – 7 October 2000
Born (1955-04-16) 16 April 1955
Betzdorf Castle, Betzdorf, Luxembourg
(m. 1981)
Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume
HouseLuxembourg-Nassau (official)[1]
Bourbon-Parma (agnatic)
FatherJean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
MotherJoséphine-Charlotte of Belgium
ReligionRoman Catholic


Prince Henri was born on 16 April 1955, at the Betzdorf Castle in Luxembourg as the second child and first son of Hereditary Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg and his wife, Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium. His father was the eldest son of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg by her husband, Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma. His mother was the only daughter of King Leopold III of Belgium by his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden. The prince's godparents were the Prince of Liège (his maternal uncle) and Princess Marie Gabriele (his paternal aunt).

Henri has four siblings: Archduchess Marie Astrid of Austria (born 1954), Prince Jean of Luxembourg (born 1957), Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein (born 1957) and Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg (born 1963).

On 12 November 1964, when Henri was nine, his grandmother abdicated and his father became Grand Duke. By two sovereign decisions of 14 April 1973 the Grand Duke decided that "Henri will be considered as having reached the age of majority as from 16 April 1973, the date on which he will have reached the age of eighteen years" and "that His Royal Highness Prince Henri will bear, in His capacity as Heir Apparent to the Crown of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and of the Grand-Ducal Trust, the title of Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Crown Prince of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon of Parma."[4]


Henri was educated in Luxembourg and in France, where he obtained his baccalaureate in 1974, after which he undertook military officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England on the Standard Military Course (SMC) 7. He then studied political science at University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International Studies, graduating in 1980.

Constitutional position

The Grand Duke with his wife and heir apparent
The Grand Duke with his son Félix in New York during 2013 United Nations session

Prince Henri became heir apparent to the Luxembourg throne on the abdication of his paternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, on 12 November 1964. From 1980 to 1998, he was a member of the Council of State.

On 4 March 1998, Prince Henri was appointed as lieutenant representative by his father, Grand Duke Jean, meaning that he assumed most of his father's constitutional powers. On 7 October 2000, immediately following the abdication of his father, Henri acceded as Grand Duke of Luxembourg and took the constitutional oath before the Chamber of Deputies later that day.

Euthanasia and constitutional reform controversies

On 2 December 2008, it was announced that Grand Duke Henri had stated he would refuse to give his assent to a new law on euthanasia that had been passed earlier in the year by the Chamber of Deputies.[5] Under the constitution then, the grand duke "sanctions and promulgates the laws" meaning the need for the grand duke's sanction or approval was required in order for laws to take effect. In the absence of clarity on the long-term implications for the constitutional position of the grand duke posed by such a refusal, it was announced by Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker that a constitutional amendment would be brought forward.

The Luxembourg ruling house had tried to block a decision by Parliament only once before, when Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaïde refused to sign a bill in 1912 to reduce the role of Roman Catholic priests within the education system.[6] The ultimate solution was that the grand duke would be declared unable to perform his duty temporarily. This was similar to the "escape route" provided to his uncle King Baudouin of Belgium when he refused to sign an abortion law in 1991; thus the law could take effect without the signature of the grand duke, but also without the need to enact far-reaching changes in the constitution.

Article 34 of the constitution was subsequently amended to remove the term "assent",[7] leaving the relevant provision to read: "The Grand Duke promulgates the laws..." As a result, his signature is still needed but it is clear that his signature is automatic and that he has no freedom of decision. The head of state no longer has to "sanction" laws for them to take effect, as the officeholder merely promulgates them.[8]

Role and interests

As the head of a constitutional monarchy, Grand Duke Henri's duties are primarily representative. However, he retains the constitutional power to appoint the prime minister and government, to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, to promulgate laws and to accredit ambassadors.

Grand Duke Henri is commander-in-chief of the Luxembourg Army, in which he holds the rank of general. He is also an honorary major in the British RAF Regiment.

One of the grand duke's main functions is to represent Luxembourg in the field of foreign affairs. In May 2001, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa undertook their first foreign state visit to Spain at the invitation of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain.

Grand Duke Henri is a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a member of The Mentor Foundation (established by the World Health Organization) and a director of the Charles Darwin Trust for the Galápagos Islands.[9]

The grand duke lives with his family at Berg Castle in Luxembourg. He also has a holiday home in Cabasson, a village in the commune of Bormes-les-Mimosas in Southern France.[10]

Marriage and family

While studying in Geneva, Henri met the Cuban-born María Teresa Mestre y Batista, who was also a political science student. They married in Luxembourg in a civil ceremony on 4 February 1981 and a religious ceremony on 14 February 1981 with the previous consent of the grand duke, dated 7 November 1980; and they remain married. The couple has five children: Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Félix of Luxembourg, Prince Louis of Luxembourg, Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg, and Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg.

Media and publicity

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess at the wedding of the Crown Princess of Sweden in 2010

Since the accession of Henri to the Grand Ducal Throne in 2000, the court's approach to media and publicity has varied markedly. In 2002, Grand Duke Henri expressly identified himself with a press conference called by Grand Duchess Maria Teresa with a view to discussing with journalists the shortcomings of her personal relations with her mother-in-law Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.

In contrast, when the grand ducal couple's first grandchild was born in 2006, the Court Circular pointedly omitted to mention the event, probably as the father Prince Louis was not married at the time. However, the pregnancy was announced in 2005, so the country was informed that the prince and his girlfriend were going to be parents. The press also had access to the child's baptism.

The grand ducal family's approach to media and publicity issues has given rise to media comment regarding the quality of communications advice which has been sought and followed. As well as the public airing of the difficulties between the grand duchess and her mother-in-law, several other events have resulted in adverse publicity, most notably: in 2004, the opening of parliament by the grand duke in person, the first time in over 100 years the monarch had done so; in 2005, the grand duke announced he intended to vote in favour of the European Constitution in the impending referendum, only to be reminded by senior politicians that he had no such right. The proposed sale of large tracts of the Gruenewald in the summer of 2006 was shortly followed by the proposed sale (cancelled shortly afterwards) at Sotheby's of recently deceased Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's effects.[11]

Waringo report

On 31 January 2020, the Waringo report was released, a governmental report on the internal workings of the monarchy that had been compiled by Jeannot Waringo, former Financial Director of Luxembourg.[12] The report identified significant problems in terms of staff management at the Palace resulting in a high turnover rate and an atmosphere of fear. It noted that internal communications were almost nonexistent. Waringo indicated that the most important staff decisions were made by the Grand Duchess. There was no division of staff for personal use and that for official functions. Waringo was also not able to determine if the grand ducal couple's private activities were financed by the State or not.[12] The report calls for a reform of the monarchy.[13] The Court responded that "(i)n the interests of greater transparency and modernization, the Court will contribute constructively to the implementation of the improvements proposed in this report."[13]


On 3 February 2011, Henri was admitted to the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg on falling ill. Shortly after, the grand ducal court issued a statement saying that he was to undergo an angioplasty. The day after, the communications chief announced that the procedure had been a success. "The state of His Royal Highness' health is not disturbing," the statement read, before stating the grand duke may leave the hospital within the next few days. Although the reason has not formally been disclosed, it is reported that the grand duke felt ill after waking that day, and the court physician noticed circulation problems. It was then that he was rushed to hospital, to the cardiac unit, and was discharged the following day.





  1. "Droits de Succession: Ordre successoral". Cour Grand-Ducale de Luxembourg. Maréchalat de la Cour. 6 June 2011. Archived from the original on 3 June 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  2. "Grand Duke Henri (b. 1955)" Archived 4 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The official portal of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
  3. Hoffower, Hillary. "Meet the 10 richest billionaire royals in the world right now". Business Insider.
  4. "Déclaré majeur, le prince Henri a été proclamé Grand-Duc héritier de Luxembourg", Luxemburger Wort, 17 April 1973.
  5. "Luxembourg strips monarch of legislative role". TheGuardian.com. 12 December 2008.
  6. Péporté, Pit (2010). Inventing Luxembourg: representations of the past, space and language from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. BRILL. p. 90. ISBN 978-90-04-18176-2.
  7. "Loi du 12 mars 2009 portant révision de l'article 34 de la Constitution. - Legilux". data.legilux.public.lu. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  8. "Luxembourg to reduce duke's power", BBC News, 3 December 2008.
  9. Charles Darwin Foundation, Inc. 2003 Annual Report
  10. Ce drôle de mystère qui entoure une maison royale près du fort de Brégançon, immobilier.lefigaro.fr (in French), 20 August 2020
  11. Revue 10 December 2008, Editions Revue S.A., Luxembourg
  12. ""The monarchy's functioning must be reformed"". RTL Today. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  13. Brittani Barger (31 January 2020). "Waringo Report reveals a culture of fear dominates Luxembourg's Grand Ducal Court". Royal Central. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  14. DECRETO DE 3 DE DEZEMBRO DE 2007 - website JusBrasil
  15. "Modtagere af danske dekorationer". kongehuset.dk (in Danish). 12 December 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  16. Estonian State decorations, 05/05/2003
  17. www.gouvernement.lu/, State visit of President Stephanopoulos in Luxembourg, July 2001
  18. Latvian Presidency, Recipients list (.doc) Archived 2 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  19. President's decision M.P. z 2014 r. poz. 728
  20. Alvará n.º 23/2005. Diário da República n.º 218/2005, Série II de 2005-11-14
  21. Alvará (extracto) n.º 16/2010. Diário da República n.º 219/2010, Série II de 2010-11-11. p.55733.
  22. Alvará (extrato) n.º 7/2017. Diário da República n.º 133/2017, Série II de 2017-07-12, p. 14444
  23. Romanian Presidency website, Recipients of the order (Excel sheet)
  24. Slovak republic website, State honours (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table): 1st Class received by Grand-Duke in 2002, i.e. during the state visit Archived 16 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine (French) of President Rudolf Schuster in Luxembourg (november 2002).
  25. Real Decreto 474/2007. Boletín Oficial del Estado núm. 90, de 14 de abril de 2007, p. 16516
  26. Spanish Royal Family website, State visit of Juan Carlos & Sofia in Luxembourg, April 2007, Photo of the Sovereign couples
  27. Real Decreto 525/2001. Boletín Oficial del Estado núm. 114, de 12 de mayo de 2001, p. 17204
  28. Real Decreto 3198/1980. Boletín Oficial del Estado núm. 109, de 7 de mayo de 1981, p. 9813
  29. "Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg at the Çankaya Presidential Palace". Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  30. "Grand Duke, Hereditary Grand Duke Awarded Sandhurst Medal". Chronicle.lu. 23 September 2020.
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