Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
The Grand Duchess in 1942
|Grand Duchess of Luxembourg|
|Reign||14 January 1919 – 12 November 1964|
|Born||23 January 1896|
Berg Castle, Luxembourg
|Died||9 July 1985 (aged 89)|
Fischbach Castle, Fischbach, Luxembourg
|Spouse||Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma|
|Father||William IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg|
|Mother||Infanta Marie Anne of Portugal|
Charlotte (Charlotte Adelgonde Élise/Elisabeth Marie Wilhelmine; 23 January 1896 – 9 July 1985) reigned as Grand Duchess of Luxembourg from 1919 until her abdication in 1964.
She acceded to the throne on 14 January 1919 following the abdication of her sister, Marie-Adélaïde, due to political pressure. There had been controversies surrounding some of Marie-Adélaïde’s actions and calls for her abdication by some began to appear in parliament due to her being seen as cordial to the Germans that occupied Luxembourg during the First World War. Later, a double referendum on whether to retain the monarchy or become a republic and on the economic orientation of the country was held on 28 September 1919. In it, the majority voted to retain Charlotte as grand duchess.
She married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma on 6 November 1919 with whom she would have six children. Following the 1940 German invasion of Luxembourg during the Second World War, Charlotte went into exile first in France, then Portugal, the United Kingdom, and North America. While in London, she began making broadcasts to the people of Luxembourg. She would return to Luxembourg in April 1945.
She abdicated in 1964 and was succeeded by her son Jean. Charlotte died from cancer on 9 July 1985.
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 interfere in 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, twenty-seven grandchildren, seventy-eight great-grandchildren and twenty-seven great-great-grandchildren:
|Name||Date of birth||Date of death||Spouses|
|Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg||5 January 1921||Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005). They have five children, twenty-two grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren|
|Princess Elisabeth, Duchess von Hohenberg||22 December 1922||22 November 2011(aged 88)||Franz, Duke von Hohenberg (1927–1977), and had issue.|
|Princess Marie Adelaide, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck||21 May 1924||28 February 2007(aged 82)||Count Karl Josef Henckel von Donnersmarck (1928–2008), and had issue.|
|Princess Marie Gabriele, Dowager Countess af Holstein-Ledreborg||2 August 1925||Knud Johan, Count af Holstein-Ledreborg (1919–2001), and had issue.|
|Prince Charles of Luxembourg||7 August 1927||26 July 1977(aged 49)||Joan Douglas Dillon (b. 1935), and had issue.|
|Alix, Dowager Princess de Ligne||24 August 1929||Antoine, 13th Prince de Ligne (1925–2005), and had issue.|
By 1935, Charlotte had sold her German properties, the former residential palaces of the Dukes of Nassau, Biebrich Palace and Schloss Weilburg, 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. The Grand Ducal family went to North America in exile, settling first on the Marjorie Merriweather Post estate in Brookville, Long Island and then in Montreal. The Grand Duchess visited Washington DC and made a good will tour of the US to keep the profile of Luxembourg high in the eyes of the Allies.
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).
In 1951 Charlotte by decree admitted into the nobility of Luxembourg three Swedish relatives who were not allowed to use their birth titles in Sweden. She then named them as Sigvard Prince Bernadotte, Carl Johan Prince Bernadotte and Lennart Prince Bernadotte and also gave them and their legitimate descendants the hereditary titles of Counts and Countesses of Wisborg there.
Abdication and later life
On 12 November 1964, she abdicated in favour of her son Jean, who then reigned until his abdication in 2000.
A statue of the Grand Duchess is in Place Clarefontaine in the city of Luxembourg.
Titles, styles, and honours
Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg
|Reference style||Her Royal Highness|
|Spoken style||Your Royal Highness|
- 23 January 1896 – 25 February 1912: Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Charlotte of Luxembourg
- 25 February 1912 – 14 January 1919: Her Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duchess 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
- National honours
- Luxembourg: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
- Luxembourg: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau
- Luxembourg: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown
- Luxembourg: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
- Luxembourg: Recipient of the Luxembourg War Cross
- Foreign honours
- Austria-Hungary: Dame of the Order of the Starry Cross
- Austria: Grand Cross of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria
- Belgium: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
- Denmark: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Elephant
- Holy See: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Pius IX
- Holy See: Cross of Honour of the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice"
- Italy: Dame Grand Cross of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Nazi Germany: Grand Officer of the Order of Social Welfare, Special Class
- Netherlands: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- Norway: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav
- Poland: Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle
- Portugal: Grand Collar of the Order of the Tower and Sword
- Portugal: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Christ
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Aviz
- Spain : Dame Grand Cross of the Royal and Distinguished Order of Charles III
- Sweden: Member Grand Cross of the Order of the Seraphim
- Thailand: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Royal House of Chakri
- Holy See: The Golden Rose
- Click on image to enlarge
The old Berg Castle (demolished 1906), Mersch, central Luxembourg, ducal residence where Charlotte was born
Notes and references
- "Grand Duchess Charlotte's US Good-Will-Tours". Luxemburger Wort. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Kreins, Jean-Marie. Histoire du Luxembourg. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2010. 5th edition. p. 105
- "Mémorial A n° 48 de 1951 - Legilux" (PDF).
- "Commemoration to mark return of Luxembourg monarch". Luxemburger Wort. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- It was customary for a reigning Grand Duke, his heir apparent, and their spouses to use the style of Royal Highness
- [permanent dead link]
- "Wedding Wednesday: November Brides". orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk.
- "Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxemburg". alexanderpalace.org.
- "The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor: Wedding Wednesday: November Brides". orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk.
- "Geheugen van Nederland".
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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