Jean during a September 1967 state visit to the Netherlands
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Reign12 November 1964 –
7 October 2000
Prime MinistersPierre Werner
Gaston Thorn
Jacques Santer
Jean-Claude Juncker
Born(1921-01-05)5 January 1921
Berg Castle, Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg
Died23 April 2019(2019-04-23) (aged 98)
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Burial4 May 2019
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
(m. 1953; died 2005)
Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d'Aviano
HouseNassau-Weilburg (official)
Bourbon-Parma (agnatic)
FatherPrince Felix of Bourbon-Parma
MotherCharlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
SignatureJean's signature

Jean (Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d'Aviano; 5 January 1921 – 23 April 2019) was the Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 1964 until his abdication in 2000. He was the first Grand Duke of Luxembourg of French agnatic descent.

Jean was the eldest son of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix. Jean's primary education was initially in Luxembourg, before attending Ampleforth College in England. In 1938, he was officially named Hereditary Grand Duke as heir-apparent to the throne of Luxembourg. While Luxembourg was occupied by Germans during the Second World War, the grand ducal family was abroad in exile. Jean studied at the Université Laval in Quebec City. Jean later volunteered to join the British army's Irish Guards in 1942, and after graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, received his commission in 1943. He participated in the Normandy landings and the Battle for Caen, and joined the Allied forces in the liberation of Luxembourg. From 1984 until 2000, he was Colonel of the Regiment of the Irish Guards.

On 9 April 1953, Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, with whom he had five children. On 12 November 1964, Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated and Jean succeeded her as Grand Duke of Luxembourg. He then reigned for 36 years before he himself abdicated on 7 October 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Grand Duke Henri.

Early life

Birth and family

See also: House of Bourbon-Parma and House of Nassau-Weilburg

Jean's parents, Charlotte and Felix, in 1919.

Jean was born on 5 January 1921[1] at Berg Castle in central Luxembourg, the first child of Grand Duchess Charlotte and of Prince Félix. He was born just two years after his mother's accession as Grand Duchess, which took place after her elder sister Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde had been forced to abdicate in 1919 when she was accused of being pro-German during the First World War.[2] As the eldest child of the reigning Grand Duchess, he was heir apparent from birth. Among his godparents was Pope Benedict XV, who gave him his second name.[3]

Childhood and education

Prince Jean was raised with his five siblings, and grew up primarily at his parents' residence, Berg Castle, in the town of Colmar-Berg.[4] The young prince attended primary school in Luxembourg, where he continued the initial stage of secondary education. From 1934 to 1938, he completed secondary school at Ampleforth College, a Roman Catholic boarding school in the United Kingdom.[4] Upon reaching maturity, on 5 January 1939 he was styled 'Hereditary Grand Duke', recognising his status as heir apparent.[5]

Hereditary Grand Duke

Second World War

See also: German invasion of Luxembourg and German occupation of Luxembourg in World War II

German troops cross the border to Luxembourg on 10 May 1940.

Just a few months later, World War II broke out. Although the country declared itself neutral and unarmed, the Luxembourgers knew from their World War I experience that their country's neutrality would not necessarily protect them. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded Luxembourg, beginning a four-year occupation. Having been warned of an imminent invasion, the Grand Ducal Family escaped the previous night, together with the government of Luxembourg.

At first, they sought refuge in Paris, before fleeing France only weeks later, after receiving transit visas to Portugal from the Portuguese consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes, in June 1940. They arrived at Vilar Formoso on 23 June 1940. After travelling through Coimbra and Lisbon, the family first stayed in Cascais, in Casa de Santa Maria, owned by Manuel Espírito Santo, who was then the honorary consul for Luxembourg in Portugal. By July they had moved to Monte Estoril, staying at the Chalet Posser de Andrade. On 10 July 1940, Prince Jean, together with his father Prince Félix, his siblings, Princess Elisabeth, Princess Marie Adelaide, Princess Marie Gabriele, Prince Charles and Princess Alix, the nanny Justine Reinard and the chauffeur Eugène Niclou, along with his wife Joséphine, boarded the S.S. Trenton headed for New York City,[6][7] where they sought refuge in the United States, renting an estate in Brookville, New York.[4] The grand duchess travelled from Portugal to London, where a government in exile was set up, before joining her family in North America.[6] Jean studied Law and Political Science at Université Laval, Quebec City.[8]

Prince Jean, together with his father Prince Félix at the liberation of Luxembourg City in 1944.

He joined the British Army as a volunteer in the Irish Guards in November 1942.[4] After receiving officer training at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst,[4] Jean was commissioned as a lieutenant on 30 July 1943,[9] before being promoted to captain in 1944. He landed in Normandy on 11 June 1944, and took part in the Battle for Caen and the liberation of Brussels.[4] On 10 September 1944, he took part in the liberation of Luxembourg before moving on to Arnhem and the invasion of Germany.[4] He relinquished his commission in the British Army on 26 June 1947.[10] From 1984 until his abdication, he served as Colonel of the Regiment of the Irish Guards,[4] often riding in uniform behind Queen Elizabeth II during the Trooping the Colour.[11]


Medal struck at the occasion of the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Jean and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium in 1953.

In October 1952, Jean was officially engaged to Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, his third cousin, the only daughter of King Leopold III of the Belgians and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden. There had been speculation that the marriage was arranged to improve relations between Luxembourg and Belgium but it soon became apparent that a love match was blooming between two longtime friends.[12]

They were married in Luxembourg on 9 April 1953, first in the Hall of Ceremonies at the Grand Ducal Palace, later in Luxembourg's Notre-Dame Cathedral.[13] The marriage put an end to the tensions between Luxembourg and Belgium which arose from 1918 to 1920 when there had been a threat of annexation.[14]

The newlyweds were given Betzdorf Castle in Betzdorf in the eastern part of the grand duchy as their residence.[4] The couple had five children, 22 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.[15]


Grand Duke Jean taking his constitutional oath before the Chamber of Deputies on 12 November 1964.

Jean was named Lieutenant-Representative of the Grand Duchess on 28 April 1961.[4] He became Grand Duke when his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, abdicated on 12 November 1964.[16] The same day, he was made a General of the Armed Forces of Luxembourg.[4]

From the beginning of his reign, Grand Duke Jean's priorities included the well-being of his people and the completion of European unity. In the words of President Georges Pompidou of France, "If Europe had to choose a hereditary president, it would certainly be the Grand Duke of Luxembourg". Indeed, during his reign Grand Duke Jean saw Luxembourg transformed from a minor industrial contributor into an international financial centre.[17][18] In 1986, he was honoured with the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen for his efforts towards European integration.[18]

The Grand Duke's reign was one of the most prosperous periods in the history of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The degree of stability in the country's politics, economy and social life was without precedent, thanks in part to the influence of the Grand Duke and his wife.[19] He abdicated on 7 October 2000, and was succeeded on the throne by his son Henri.[4]

Luxembourg's museum of modern art Mudam was officially named "Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean" to commemorate his reign which lasted 36 years.[20] It was inaugurated in his presence in July 2006.[14]

Later life


Jean at the wedding of his grandson Prince Louis in 2006

In the summer of 2002, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte took up residence at Fischbach Castle. After his wife died in January 2005, the Grand Duke continued to live there alone.[21] On 27 December 2016, Grand Duke Jean was hospitalized due to bronchitis and was discharged from hospital on 4 January 2017, a day before he celebrated his 96th birthday.[22]


Surrounded by his family, Grand Duke Jean died at 00.25 CEST on 23 April 2019 at the age of 98 after he had been hospitalized for a pulmonary infection.[23][24] He had become the world's oldest living monarch or former monarch by the time of his death.[25]

His funeral was held on Saturday, 4 May at the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg[26] after a period of mourning of 12 days.[27]


Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission and former prime-minister of Luxembourg, described Jean's death as "a great loss for the Grand Duchy and for Europe". He added, "Like all the people of Luxembourg, I had great esteem for this man of commitment, kindness and courage."[26]

Luxembourg's prime-minister, Xavier Bettel, alluded to his service in the Second World War: "Grand Duke Jean fought for our freedom, for our independence and for the unity of our country and we will always be grateful. A family man left us today. A great statesman, a hero, an example – and a very beloved and gracious man."[26]

Tributes followed from the Belgian royal family, commenting "His courage, his dignity and his high sense of duty will remain as an example... The whole of Belgium shares the grief of the Luxembourg people."[28]

In their tribute, the Dutch royal family mentioned "the friendship and warmth he radiated", adding "With his thoughtfulness and humanity, he added to calm and confidence in his country and Europe."[28]

In their tribute, the British royal family said that the Grand Duke will be "missed, both inside and outside Luxembourg".[29]

In the tribute from the Romanian Royal Family via a post on their websites, they mentioned that "The entire Royal Family of Romania is alongside the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in these sad and painful moments"; also written was their very close relations (via Queen Anne who was a paternal first cousin of his) as well as "a lifetime of friendship"; the head of the family, Crown Princess Margareta, sent a letter of condolences to her cousin, Grand Duke Henri.[30]

The president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach paid tribute to Grand Duke Jean who had joined the IOC in 1946 and had been an honorary member since 1998. "He was always a very calm and well-balanced person who was highly respected by the entire Olympic Movement because of his integrity... The IOC will always hold him in the highest honour and with the greatest respect."[31]


The Grand Ducal couple with their children (July 1971)

Titles, styles, honours and awards

Titles and styles

Jean renounced the titles of the House of Bourbon-Parma for himself and his family in 1986.[34] This decree was however repealed by another decree on 21 September 1995.[35]

The Arrêté Grand-Ducal (Grand Ducal decree) of 21 September 1995 established that the title of Prince/Princesse de Luxembourg is reserved for the children of the sovereign and the heir to the throne. It also stated that the descendants in male lineage of the sovereign should be styled as Royal Highnesses and titled Prince/Princess of Nassau and that the descendants of unapproved marriages should be styled as Count/Countess of Nassau.[35][36]




Other honours


Honorary military appointments



Patrilineal descent

Patrilineal descent

Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations - which means that if Grand Duke Jean were to choose an historically accurate house name it would be Robertian, as all his male-line ancestors have been of that house.

Jean is a member of the House of Bourbon-Parma, a sub-branch of the House of Bourbon-Spain, itself originally a branch of the House of Bourbon, and thus of the Capetian dynasty and of the Robertians.

Jean's patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son. It follows the Dukes of Parma as well as the Kings of Spain, France, and Navarre. The line can be traced back more than 1,200 years from Robert of Hesbaye to the present day, through Kings of France & Navarre, Spain and Two-Sicilies, Dukes of Parma and Grand-Dukes of Luxembourg, Princes of Orléans and Emperors of Brazil. It is one of the oldest in Europe.

  1. Robert II of Worms and Rheingau (Robert of Hesbaye), 770 - 807
  2. Robert III of Worms and Rheingau, 808 - 834
  3. Robert IV the Strong, 820 - 866
  4. Robert I of France, 866 - 923
  5. Hugh the Great, 895 - 956
  6. Hugh Capet, 941 - 996
  7. Robert II of France, 972 - 1031
  8. Henry I of France, 1008–1060
  9. Philip I of France, 1053–1108
  10. Louis VI of France, 1081–1137
  11. Louis VII of France, 1120–1180
  12. Philip II of France, 1165–1223
  13. Louis VIII of France, 1187–1226
  14. Saint Louis IX of France, 1215–1270
  15. Robert, Count of Clermont, 1256–1317
  16. Louis I, Duke of Bourbon, 1279–1342
  17. James I, Count of La Marche, 1319–1362
  18. John I, Count of La Marche, 1344–1393
  19. Louis, Count of Vendôme, 1376–1446
  20. Jean VIII, Count of Vendôme, 1428–1478
  21. François, Count of Vendôme, 1470–1495
  22. Charles de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, 1489–1537
  23. Antoine of Navarre, 1518–1562
  24. Henry IV of France, 1553–1610
  25. Louis XIII of France, 1601–1643
  26. Louis XIV of France, 1638–1715
  27. Louis, Dauphin of France (1661–1711), 1661–1711
  28. Philip V of Spain, 1683–1746
  29. Philip, Duke of Parma, 1720–1765
  30. Ferdinand, Duke of Parma, 1751–1802
  31. Louis of Etruria, 1773–1803
  32. Charles II, Duke of Parma, 1799–1883
  33. Charles III, Duke of Parma, 1823–1854
  34. Robert I, Duke of Parma, 1848–1907
  35. Felix of Bourbon-Parma, 1893–1970
  36. Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, 1921–2019


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Media related to Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg at Wikimedia Commons

Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg House of Nassau-WeilburgCadet branch of the House of NassauBorn: 5 January 1921 Died: 23 April 2019 Regnal titles Preceded byCharlotte Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1964–2000 Succeeded byHenri Military offices Preceded byBasil Eugster Colonel of the Irish Guards 1984–2000 Succeeded byThe Duke of Abercorn