Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Henri (French: Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume,[1] pronounced [ˈɑ̃ːʀi]; born 16 April 1955) is the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, reigning since 7 October 2000. He is the eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, and a first cousin of Philippe, King of the Belgians.

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg in 2009
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
Castle Betzdorf, Betzdorf, Luxembourg
Full name
Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume
FatherJean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
MotherPrincess Joséphine Charlotte of Belgium
ReligionRoman Catholic

In 2019, his net worth was estimated around US$4 billion.[2]


Prince Henri was born on 16 April 1955, at the Betzdorf Castle in Luxembourg as the second child and first son of Prince Jean, Hereditary Grand Duke 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 an only daughter of King Leopold III of Belgium by his first wife, Astrid of Sweden. The prince's godparents were the Prince of Liège (his maternal uncle) and Princess Marie Gabriele, countess of Holstein-Ledreborg (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's abdication and his father's subsequent accession as grand duke made him heir apparent. As the grand duke's eldest son, he automatically took the title of Hereditary Grand Duke.


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.

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 on 4 February/14 February 1981 with the previous consent of the grand duke, dated 7 November 1980. The couple has five children and four grandchildren:

Constitutional position

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. 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 amending the constitution.

The Luxembourg royal house had tried to block a decision by parliament only once before, when Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide refused to sign an education bill in 1912. 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, and 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".[3] Leaving the relevant provision to read "The Grand Duke promulgates the laws..." As a result, his signature is still needed but is clear that his signature is automatic and that he/she has no freedom of decision. The head of state no longer has to "sanction" laws for them to take effect; he merely promulgates them.[4]

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 Sofia.

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

The grand duke lives with his family at Berg Castle in Luxembourg. He also has a holiday home at Cabasson, near Bormes-les-Mimosas in the south of France.

Media and publicity

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 shortly followed by the proposed sale (cancelled shortly afterwards) at Sotheby's of recently deceased Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's effects.[5]


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.

Titles, styles, honours and awards

Titles and styles

  • 16 April 1955 – 12 November 1964: His Royal Highness Prince Henri of Luxembourg, Prince of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma
  • 12 November 1964 – 28 July 1987: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma
  • 28 July 1987 – 7 October 2000: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince of Nassau
  • 7 October 2000 – present: His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau






Patrilineal descent


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  2. Hoffower, Hillary. "Meet the 10 richest billionaire royals in the world right now". Business Insider.
  3. "Loi du 12 mars 2009 portant révision de l'article 34 de la Constitution. - Legilux". data.legilux.public.lu. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  4. "Luxembourg to reduce duke's power", BBC News, 3 December 2008.
  5. Revue 10 December 2008, Editions Revue S.A., Luxembourg
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  7. Photographic image. Belga Images.
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  14. Estonian State decorations, 05/05/2003
  15. "Noblesse et Royautés" website Archived 10 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine, article with photos of gala dinner
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  17. www.gouvernement.lu/ Archived 10 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, State visit of President Stephanopoulos in Luxembourg, July 2001
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  32. Real Decreto 474/2007. Boletín Oficial del Estado núm. 90, de 14 de abril de 2007, p. 16516
  33. Spanish Royal Family website, State visit of Juan Carlos & Sofia in Luxembourg, April 2007, Photo of the Sovereign couples
  34. Real Decreto 525/2001. Boletín Oficial del Estado núm. 114, de 12 de mayo de 2001, p. 17204
  35. Real Decreto 3198/1980. Boletín Oficial del Estado núm. 109, de 7 de mayo de 1981, p. 9813
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Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Cadet branch of the House of Nassau
Born: 16 April 1955
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Heir apparent:
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