Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
The Grand Duchess in 1942
|Grand Duchess of Luxembourg|
|Reign||14 January 1919 – 12 November 1964|
|Spouse||Felix of Bourbon-Parma|
|Issue||Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Elizabeth, Duchess of Hohenberg
Adélaide, Countess of Donnersmarck
Gabriele, Countess of Holstein-Ledreborg
Alix, Princess of Ligne
|House||House of Nassau-Weilburg
House of Bourbon-Parma
|Father||William IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg|
|Mother||Infanta Marie Anne of Portugal|
23 January 1896|
Berg Castle, Luxembourg
|Died||9 July 1985
Fischbach Castle, Fischbach, Luxembourg
Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (Charlotte Adelgonde Élise/Elisabeth Marie Wilhelmine; 23 January 1896 – 9 July 1985), reigned from 1919 to 1964.
Early life and tenure as Grand Duchess
When her older sister, Marie-Adélaide, who had succeeded their father, was forced to abdicate on 14 January 1919, Charlotte became the one who had to deal with the revolutionary tendencies in the country. Unlike her sister, she chose not to meddle with its politics.
In a referendum about the new constitution on 28 September 1919, 77.8% of the Luxembourgish people voted for the continuation of a Grand Ducal monarchy with Charlotte as head of state. In this constitution, the power of the monarch was severely restricted.
Marriage and children
On 6 November 1919 in Luxembourg, she married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, a first cousin on her mother's side. (Both Charlotte and Felix were grandchildren of King Miguel of Portugal through his daughters Maria Anna and Maria Antonia, respectively). With the marriage, their lineal descent was raised in style from Grand Ducal Highness to Royal Highness. The union produced six children:
|Name||Date of birth||Date of death||Spouses|
|Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg||5 January 1921||Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005)|
|Elizabeth, Duchess of Hohenberg||22 December 1922||22 November 2011(aged 88)||Franz, Duke of Hohenberg (1927–1977)|
|Marie Adelaide, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck||21 May 1924||28 February 2007(aged 82)||Karl Josef Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck (1928–2008)|
|Marie Gabriele, Countess of Holstein-Ledreborg||2 August 1925||Knud Johan, Count of Holstein-Ledreborg (1919–2001)|
|Charles, Prince of Luxembourg||7 August 1927||26 July 1977(aged 49)||Joan Douglas Dillon (b. 1935)|
|Alix, Princess of Ligne||24 August 1929||Antoine, 13th Prince of Ligne (1925–2005)|
Already in 1935, Charlotte had sold her German properties, the former residential palaces of the Dukes of Nassau, Biebrich Palace and Weilburg Castle, to the State of Prussia. During the Second World War the grand ducal family left Luxembourg shortly before the arrival of Nazi troops. Luxembourg's neutrality was violated on 9 May 1940, while the Grand Duchess and her family were in residence at Colmar-Berg. That day she called an extraordinary meeting of her leading ministers, and they all decided to place themselves under the protection of France, described by the Grand Duchess as a difficult but necessary decision. Initially the family took up residence at the Château de Montastruc in south-western France, but the rapid advance of the German forces into France followed by French capitulation the next month caused the French government to refuse any guarantee of security to the exiled Luxembourg government. Permission was received to cross Spain provided they did not stop en route, and the Grand Duchess with her ministers moved on to Portugal.
The Germans proposed to restore the Grand Duchess to her functions, but Charlotte refused, mindful of her sister's experiences of remaining in Luxembourg under German occupation during the First World War. By 29 August 1940 Grand Duchess Charlotte was in London where she began to make supportive broadcasts to her homeland using the BBC. Later she travelled to the United States and to Canada. Her children continued their schooling in Montreal while she had several meetings with President Roosevelt who encouraged her itinerant campaigning across the country in support of his own opposition to isolationism which was a powerful political current until the Pearl Harbor attacks. In the meantime Luxembourg, along with the adjacent French Moselle department, found itself integrated into an expanded Germany under the name Heim ins Reich, which left Luxembourgers required to speak German and liable for conscription into the German army.
In 1943 Grand Duchess Charlotte and the Luxembourg government established themselves in London: her broadcasts became a more regular feature of the BBC schedules, establishing her as a focus for the resistance movements in Luxembourg.
Charlotte's younger sister Antonia and brother-in-law Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, were exiled from Germany in 1939. In 1944, living now in Hungary, Crown Princess Antonia was captured when the Germans invaded Hungary and found herself deported to the concentration camp at Dachau, being later transferred to Flossenbürg where she survived torture but only with her health badly impaired. Meanwhile from 1942 Grand Duchess Charlotte's eldest son, Jean, served as a volunteer in the Irish Guards.
In the years after the war, Charlotte showed a lot of public activity which contributed to raising Luxembourg's profile on the international stage, by hosting visits from foreign heads of state and other dignitaries, such as Eleanor Roosevelt (1950), Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (1951), René Coty (1957), King Baudouin of Belgium (1959), King Bhumibol of Thailand (1961), and King Olav V of Norway (1964). Likewise, she visited Pius XII (1950), Charles de Gaulle (1961), and John F. Kennedy (1963).
Abdication and later life
On 12 November 1964, she abdicated in favour of her son Jean, who then reigned until his abdication in 2000.
The old Berg Castle (demolished 1906), Mersch, central Luxembourg, ducal residence where Charlotte was born
Bronze statue of Grand-Duchess Charlotte in Clairefontaine square, Luxembourg city
Titles and styles
|Monarchical styles of
Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg
|Reference style||Her Royal Highness|
|Spoken style||Your Royal Highness|
- 23 January 1896 – 14 January 1919: Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Charlotte of Luxembourg
- 14 January 1919 – 12 November 1964: Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
- 12 November 1964 – 9 July 1985: Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Princess of Nassau, Princess of Bourbon-Parma
- Kreins, Jean-Marie. Histoire du Luxembourg. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2010. 5th edition. p. 105
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Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Cadet branch of the House of NassauBorn: 23 January 1896 Died: 6 July 1985
|Grand Duchess of Luxembourg