Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

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Charlotte
Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.jpg
The Grand Duchess in 1942
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Reign 14 January 1919 – 12 November 1964
Predecessor Marie-Adélaïde
Successor Jean
Spouse Felix of Bourbon-Parma
Issue
Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Elizabeth, Duchess of Hohenberg
Adélaide, Countess of Donnersmarck
Gabriele, Countess of Holstein-Ledreborg
Prince Charles
Alix, Princess of Ligne
Full name
Charlotte Adelgonde Elisabeth Marie Wilhelmine
House House of Nassau-Weilburg
House of Bourbon-Parma
Father William IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Mother Infanta Marie Anne of Portugal
Born (1896-01-23)23 January 1896
Berg Castle, Luxembourg
Died 9 July 1985(1985-07-09) (aged 89)
Fischbach Castle, Fischbach, Luxembourg
Burial Notre-Dame Cathedral

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[edit]

A private portrait in 1921

Born in Berg Castle, Charlotte of Nassau-Weilburg, Princess of Luxembourg, was the second daughter of Grand Duke William IV and his wife, Marie Anne of Portugal.

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.

During the German occupation of Luxembourg in World War II, Charlotte, exiled in London, became an important symbol of national unity.

Marriage and children[edit]

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 (1921-01-05) 5 January 1921 (age 93) Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005)
Elizabeth, Duchess of Hohenberg 22 December 1922 22 November 2011(2011-11-22) (aged 88) Franz, Duke of Hohenberg (1927–1977)
Marie Adelaide, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck 21 May 1924 28 February 2007(2007-02-28) (aged 82) Karl Josef Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck (1928–2008)
Marie Gabriele, Countess of Holstein-Ledreborg (1925-08-02) 2 August 1925 (age 88) Knud Johan, Count of Holstein-Ledreborg (1919–2001)
Charles, Prince of Luxembourg 7 August 1927 26 July 1977(1977-07-26) (aged 49) Joan Douglas Dillon (b. 1935)
Alix, Princess of Ligne (1929-08-24) 24 August 1929 (age 84) Antoine, 13th Prince of Ligne (1925–2005)

Reign[edit]

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 was mindful of her predecessor's experiences of remaining in Luxembourg under German occupation during the First World War, and refused the offer. 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 Princess Antonia of Luxembourg had in 1921 married the last crown prince of Bavaria and in 1939 the couple had been exiled from Germany. In 1944, living now in Hungary, 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, the future Grand Duke Jean served as a volunteer in the Irish Guards which was a British army regiment, for historical reasons he was known at this time as "Lieutenant Luxembourg".

Abdication and later life[edit]

On 12 November 1964, she abdicated in favour of her son Jean, who then reigned until his abdication in 2000.

Charlotte died at Schloss Fischbach on 9 July 1985, from cancer. She was interred in the Ducal Crypt of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in the city of Luxembourg.

She was the 366th Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.

Titles and styles[edit]

Monarchical styles of
Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg
Armoiries Luxembourg Bourbon avec ornements.svg
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am
  • 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

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Born: 23 January 1896 Died: 6 July 1985
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Marie-Adélaïde
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
1919–1964
Succeeded by
Jean