Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg

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The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg constitutes the House of Luxembourg-Nassau,[1] headed by the sovereign Grand Duke, and in which the throne of the grand duchy is hereditary. It consists of heirs and descendants of the House of Nassau-Weilburg, whose sovereign territories passed cognatically from the Nassau dynasty to a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon-Parma, itself a branch of the Spanish Royal House which is agnatically a cadet branch of the House of Capet that originated in France.


In 1443 the last member of the senior branch of the House of Luxemburg, Duchess Elisabeth, sold the Duchy of Luxembourg to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, a prince of the French House of Valois. In 1477 the duchy passed by marriage of Philip's granddaughter, Mary of Burgundy, to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria of the House of Habsburg. Luxembourg was one of the fiefdoms in the former Burgundian Netherlands which Maximilian and Mary's grandson, Emperor Charles V, combined into an integral union, the Seventeen Provinces, by issuing the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549. The southern Netherlands remained part of the Habsburg Empire, first held by the Spanish branch and then by the Austrian line, until 1794 when French revolutionaries replaced Habsburg rule with French hegemony until the defeat of Napoleon.

Luxembourg's territories, centering on the ancestral castle, were taken from occupying French forces in the first stages of the fall of Napoleon. Some were eventually ceded to William VI of Nassau, Prince of Orange, who had been declared Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands in 1813, by his cousin King Frederick William III of Prussia who annexed other territories which had been held by princes of the various branches of the House of Nassau.[2] The Great Powers agreed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to re-constitute and elevate Luxembourg into a grand duchy, to be hereditary in the male line of the entire House of Nassau, beginning with the Prince of Orange, who was simultaneously but separately recognised as King of the Netherlands.

Thus William I of the Netherlands ascended the grand ducal throne as the first Grand Duke of Luxemburg. When the male line of the House of Orange-Nassau became extinct in 1890, the crown of the Netherlands went to his descendant, Wilhelmina of Orange-Nassau, but the crown of Luxembourg continued in the male line, devolving upon the head of the only surviving branch of the House of Nassau, ex-Duke Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg. His son, Guillaume IV (reigned 1905-1912), left no sons and was succeeded by his daughters, Marie-Adélaïde and then by Charlotte (reigned 1919-1964). Her descendants (from her marriage to Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma) comprise the Grand Ducal House in the 21st century.


The monarch bears the style of Royal Highness (subsumed in the higher style of Majesty that was borne by its sovereigns during the personal union of the Grand Duchy with the Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1890), to which the heir apparent is also entitled.[3] The other male-line descendants of Grand Duke Adolphe held the titles "Prince/Princess of Luxembourg" and "Prince/Princess of Nassau", with the style of Grand Ducal Highness.[3] Until 1995, the daughters and male-line issue of Grand Duchess Charlotte also bore the title of "Prince/Princess of Bourbon-Parma" and were addressed as Royal Highness, in right of their descent from her consort, Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma.[3]

On 28 July 1987, by grand ducal decree, members of the dynasty assumed the surname "de Nassau" and discontinued use of the princely title and inescutcheon of the House of Bourbon-Parma (the Dukes of which had not consented to the marriages to commoners of the dynasts of their Luxembourg cadet branch, Prince Charles in 1967 and Hereditary Grand Duke Henri in 1981),[4] while retaining the style of Royal Highness.[3]

Since the grand ducal decree of 21 September 1995, dynasts who are the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke hold the titles "Prince/Princess of Luxembourg" and "Prince/Princess of Nassau" with the style of Royal Highness.[3] Shortly after his accession to the throne in October 2000, Grand Duke Henri issued a grand ducal decree conferring upon his eldest son and heir, Prince Guillaume, the title of "Hereditary Grand Duke" and restoring to him the title "Prince of Bourbon-Parma".[5] Male line descendants of Grand Duchess Charlotte who are not the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke are "Prince/Princess of Nassau" with the style of His/Her Royal Highness.[3]

A grand ducal decree in 2012 further defined the rules of titles borne.[6]

The wives, children and male-line descendants of a prince of the dynasty whose marriage has not received grand ducal consent are "Count/Countess de Nassau".[3]


Grand Dukes Adolphe (1817-1905) and William IV (1852-1912) were Evangelical Christians. William married the Roman Catholic Marie Anne of Portugal, believing that a country in which the great majority of people were Roman Catholic should also have a Roman Catholic monarch. In 1907, William declared the Evangelical Counts of Merenberg to be non-dynastic and named his own Roman Catholic daughter, Marie-Adélaïde (1894-1924), heiress to the grand ducal throne; she in 1919 abdicated in favour of her sister, Charlotte (1896-1985), who was also Roman Catholic, and Charlotte's Roman Catholic descendants have reigned in Luxembourg ever since.

However, although Roman Catholicism is the claimed faith of the overwhelming majority of the Luxembourgish people (ca. 90-93 %), it has not the status of a State religion, nor is there any legal or constitutional obligation for the Grand Duke (as head of state) to be Roman Catholic.


HRH Grand Duke Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume of Luxembourg is the current Grand Duke of Luxembourg. He was born on April 16, 1955. He was married on February 14, 1981 to Maria Teresa Mestre and became Grand Duke when his father, Jean, abdicated on October 7, 2000. Their children are:

HRH Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg is the current Grand Duke's father. He was Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 1964 to 2000, when he abdicated. Born on January 5, 1921, he became Grand Duke when his mother, the Grand Duchess Charlotte, abdicated in 1964. He is the widower of Princess Joséphine Charlotte of Belgium (b. 11 October 1927 - m. 9 April 1953 - d. 10 January 2005).

Extended family

Succession to the throne

The preference for men over women in succession to Luxembourg's throne was abandoned in favour of absolute primogeniture on 20 June 2011 by decree of Grand Duke Henri.[10] Henceforth, any legitimate female descendant of the House of Luxembourg-Nassau born of authorized marriage shall inherit the throne by order of seniority of line of descent and of birth as stipulated in Article 3 of the Constitution and the Nassau Family Pact without regard to gender, applicable first to succession by the descendants of Grand Duke Henri.[11] The Grand Duke's Marshal issued an addendum to the decree explaining the context of the change: pursuant to the United Nation's 1979 call for nations to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, in 2008 the Grand Duchy dropped the exception to gender non-discrimination it had declared in the matter of the grand ducal succession.[12]

Summary family tree

For the ancestry of the House of Nassau, see Family Tree of the House of Nassau.

Duke of Nassau 1839-1866
Grand Duke of Luxembourg

of Anhalt-Dessau
William IV
Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Marie Anne
of Portugal
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

of Bourbon-Parma
Grand Duke of Luxembourg

of Belgium
of Luxembourg
of Austria
Grand Duke of Luxembourg

small arms grand arms
Maria Teresa MestrePrince
of Luxembourg
of Liechtenstein
of Luxembourg
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
of Luxembourg
of Luxembourg
of Luxembourg
of Luxembourg


A complete armorial is given at the Armorial de la Maison de Nassau, section Lignée Valramienne at the French Wikipedia, and another one at Wapen van Nassau, Tak van Walram at the Dutch Wikipedia.

See also


  1. "Droits de Succession: Ordre successoral". Cour Grand-Ducale de Luxembourg. Maréchalat de la Cour. 6 June 2011. Archived from the original on June 2, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  2. Huberty, Michel; Alain Giraud; F. and B. Magdelaine (1989). L'Allemagne Dynastique Tome V: Hohenzollern-Waldeck (in French). France. pp. 197204, 210. ISBN 2-901138-05-5.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 de Badts de Cugnac, Chantal. Coutant de Saisseval, Guy. Le Petit Gotha. Nouvelle Imprimerie Laballery, Paris 2002, pp. 572-573, 582, 665-668, 678, 684 (French) ISBN 2-9507974-3-1
  4. Coutant de Saisseval, Guy (1985). La Légitimité Monarchique. Paris: Editions Christian. p. 186. ISBN 2-86496018-4.
  5. S.A.R le Prince Guillaume devient le Grand-Duc Héritier (18 December 2000) at the Wayback Machine (archived July 7, 2006)
  7. Monarchie et famille grand-ducale: Autres membres de la famille grand-ducale at the Wayback Machine (archived August 9, 2013)
  8. "Special wedding in Roermond". Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  9. "Decree 27 Nov 2004 concerning royal titles". Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  10. "New Ducal succession rights for Grand Duchy". Luxemburger Wort. 21 June 2011. Archived from the original on 06.March 02.2014. Retrieved 11 July 2011. Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  11. "Droits de Succession: Ordre successoral". Cour Grand-Ducale de Luxembourg. Maréchalat de la Cour. 20 June 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  12. "Annexe au Communiqué du Maréchalat: Note explicative" (PDF). Cour Grand-Ducale de Luxembourg. Maréchalat de la Cour. 20 June 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2013.

External links

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