The Grand Ducal Family

H.R.H. the Grand Duke

Born on

16 April 1955

at Betzdorf Castle in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

© Maison du Grand-Duc / Emmanuele Scorcelletti

Biography

Grand Duke Henri, Prince of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma, is the eldest son of the five children of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.

On 14 February 1981, the Hereditary Grand Duke married Maria Teresa Mestre at the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Luxembourg. They have five children:

He became Head of State of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on 7 October 2000.

© Photographic collections / Maison grand-ducale de Luxembourg

Grand Duke Jean, the Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, Prince Henri and Princess Maria Teresa attend an official ceremony at the Grand Duchess Charlotte Monument

Preparing his role as future Head of State

Prince Henri completed his secondary education in Luxembourg and France, where he passed his baccalaureate in 1974. He trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Great Britain and obtained the rank of officer in 1975.

© Photographic collections / Maison grand-ducale de Luxembourg

Grand Duke Jean and Prince Henri at Sandhurst in 1975

Prince Henri then enrolled at the Institut des hautes études internationales (Graduate Institute of International Studies) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he graduated with a Licence ès Sciences Politiques in 1980. Prince Henri met his future wife Maria Teresa Mestre during their university studies.

In 1989, he was appointed Honorary Major of the Parachute Regiment of the United Kingdom.

© Photographic collections / Maison grand-ducale de Luxembourg

The Grand Duke met Maria Teresa Mestre, his future wife, while studying in Geneva.

He also travelled extensively overseas to further his knowledge and education, particularly to the United States and Japan.

As Crown Prince, Prince Henri was an ex officio member of the Council of State from 1980 until 1998, which gave him insight into the legislative and institutional procedures and workings of the country.

From 1978 to 2000, Prince Henri was Honorary Chairman of the Economic Development Committee. As such, he presided over numerous international trade and economic missions in order to promote the image of the Grand Duchy.  His personal involvement in these missions facilitated access to new commercial markets and contributed to attracting investments to Luxembourg. His son, Prince Guillaume, took over this official role in 2000. However, the Grand Duke continues to promote his country, notably through State visits.

© Photographic collections / Maison grand-ducale de Luxembourg

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England visiting Luxembourg

Accession to the Throne

Prince Henri was appointed Lieutenant-Représentant of His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean on 4 March 1998. He was thus delegated certain powers in some specific areas, after having pledged to obey the Constitution. His experiences as Hereditary Grand Duke had prepared him for the role all along.

At the age of 79, Grand Duke Jean decided to abdicate after 35 years as Head of State, entrusting the Throne to his eldest son. The inauguration ceremony took place at the Chamber of Deputies on 7 October 2000, when Grand Duke Henri vowed to 'obey the Constitution and the laws of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, to maintain the national independence and integrity of the territory, as well as public and individual freedoms’, as laid down in Article 5 of the Constitution.

In his inaugural speech, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri highlighted the values that characterise Luxembourg’s society, namely solidarity, justice, tolerance, respect for others and humanity.

The first courtesy visits of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess following his accession to the throne took them to France (9–10 October 2000) and to Germany (11–12 October 2000). These visits underline the vital and close ties between Luxembourg and these two neighbouring countries. From April 2001 to June 2002, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess toured the 12 cantons of Luxembourg.

© 2017 Cour grand-ducale / Lola Velasco

Portrait of HRH the Grand Duke at Berg Castle

Duties and activities of the Grand Duke

As part of his role as Head of State, H.R.H. the Grand Duke frequently receives members of Government to stay informed about the state of the nation. Foreign ambassadors have to present their credentials to him and are granted an audience of leave. He maintains regular contact with all major actors of society, be they from the political, economic, social, scientific, cultural or sports sectors.

Being in touch with and understanding the current issues affecting the people living in Luxembourg shapes the daily life of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess.

Grand Duke Henri keeps up to date about life in Luxembourg by visiting numerous institutions, associations and exhibitions. He also attends concerts, academic sessions and sports events. Through regular visits to companies, occasionally with the Crown Prince, the Grand Duke stays informed about the national economy. During his many visits in the social, humanitarian and public health sector, the Grand Duchess frequently joins him, particularly during visits to hospitals and nursing homes.

© Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

His Royal Highness the Grand Duke visits the glass-blowing workshop Pascale Seil in Berdorf in June 2019

State and official visits are one of the most visible aspects of the Grand Duke’s representative role as Head of State. They provide a valuable opportunity to establish or strengthen the country’s relationships with other nations. The Grand Duchess supports the Grand Duke in carrying out his duties, not only on official activities, but also on a daily basis.

State visit to the Republic of Chile © SIP / Charles Caratini

State visit to the Republic of Chile in 2017

State visit to the Federative Republic of Brazil © SIP / Charles Caratini

State visit to the Federative Republic of Brazil in 2007

State visit to Norway © SIP / Nicolas Bouvy

State visit to Norway in 2011

State visit to Luxembourg by the King and Queen of the Netherlands © Cour grand-ducale / Cyril Moreau / Bestimage

State visit to Luxembourg by TT.MM. the King and Queen of the Netherlands in 2018

H.R.H. the Grand Duke and H.E. the President of the Republic of Senegal, Mr Macky Sall © SIP / Julien Warnand

H.R.H. the Grand Duke and H.E. the President of the Republic of Senegal, Mr Macky Sall on an official State visit to the Republic of Senegal in 2018

 H.R.H. the Grand Duke and H.R.H. Princess Alexandra in honour of the TT.II.MM. the Emperor and Empress of Japan © SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

State visit to Japan of H.R.H. the Grand Duke and H.R.H. Princess Alexandra in honour of the TT.II.MM. the Emperor and Empress of Japan in 2017

Speech by the Grand Duke © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

Speech by His Royal Highness the Grand Duke on the occasion of the National Day, 23 June 2019

 

The role of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke in the formation of the Government is defined by the Constitution. After legislative elections are held, and according to customary proceedings, the Grand Duke chooses the Prime Minister. He either appoints first an informateur or directly appoints a formateur (designated Prime Minister). The formateur seeks to form a government that will secure a parliamentary majority.

In his speeches, Grand Duke Henri keeps stressing the importance of the values that define Luxembourg’s character: tolerance, respect, dignity and solidarity.

The Grand Duke talks to a woman © Maison du Grand-Duc / Sophie Margue

July 2021: The Grand Duke talks to distraught residents of Echternach

The Grand Duke talks to a woman © Maison du Grand-Duc / Sophie Margue

July 2021: The Grand Duke talks to distraught residents of Echternach

The Grand Duke visits Vianden after bad weather © Maison du Grand-Duc / Sophie Margue

2021: The Grand Duke visits Vianden after bad weather

2019: Grand Duke and members of the government on the ground with tornado victims © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli

2019: The Grand Duke and members of the government on the ground with tornado victims

 

In his annual Christmas speech, the Grand Duke addresses all people living in Luxembourg. This is the occasion to look back and reflect on the events of the past year both in Luxembourg and abroad, as well as to highlight the themes of integration and living together in harmony. The Grand Duke also delivers a speech during National Day celebrations. In particularly difficult situations, for instance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Duke may convey a message of encouragement to the nation.

Since assuming the role of Grand Duke, he has held the title of General of the Luxembourg Army.

High Patronages and causes

In addition to his official and ceremonial duties, the Grand Duke is the patron of many associations, which work in the cultural, sports, scientific, environmental and social domains. He is interested in technological progress, particularly in the areas of medicine, the circular economy or in the transport sector. Fostering sustainable development and fighting climate change are causes that he is passionate about.

 

The Grand Duke is a member of the Board of Directors of the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grande-Duchesse (Foundation of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess). The foundation, presided by the Grand Duchess, supports vulnerable people and people with special needs, and works for their integration into Luxembourgish society. It also backs projects in Africa and Asia.

Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess have given their High Patronage to numerous associations in Luxembourg. Members of the Grand Ducal Family can also grant their High Patronage to specific events.

At the international level, the Grand Duke is President of the Galapagos Darwin Trust Luxembourg and an honorary member of the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation. This non-governmental organisation aims to preserve the unique environment and the extraordinary biodiversity of the Galapagos Archipelago.

The Grand Duke is also a member of the Mentor Foundation, set up by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden. The goal of the foundation, which is under the patronage of the World Health Organization (WHO), is to prevent adolescents from using drugs.

In 1998, the Grand Duke joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He attends meetings of IOC members whenever possible. Since 1999, he has also been a member of the Olympic Solidarity Commission. Promoting Olympic values is of great importance to him. Grand Duke Henri has attended almost all Summer and Winter Olympic Games in order to support Luxembourg’s athletes.

© Brigitte Michaelis / natur&ëmwelt

H.R.H the Grand Duke visited projects carried out by natur&ëmwelt Fondation Hëllef fir d'Natur, an organisation for the protection of biodiversity in the country, of which he is the patron

Family

Grand Duke Henri combines his family life with the demands of his role as Head of State.

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa have five children and five grandchildren:

  • Prince Charles (born on 10 May 2020), son of the Crown Prince and Princess;
  • Amalia (born on 15 June 2014) and Liam (born on 28 November 2016), the two children of Prince Félix and Princess Claire of Luxembourg;
  • Gabriel (born on 12 March 2006) and Noah (born on 21 September 2007), the two sons of Prince Louis of Luxembourg.

 

In 2010, the Grand Duke decided to amend the Family Pact of the House of Nassau to introduce absolute primogeniture, thereby assuring equality between men and women for the succession to the Throne.

© Cour grand-ducale / Lola Velasco

The Grand Duke has five children and five grandchildren

Interests and hobbies

The Grand Duke’s hobbies include literature, classical music, nature and sports: he practices swimming, tennis, skiing and water-skiing. He likes sailing and to ride his motorbike. The Grand Duke also goes hunting, a long family tradition which helps to regulate game and fauna in the estates.

With an extremely tight schedule as Head of State, the Grand Duke nonetheless tries to spend as much time as possible with his family. He particularly cherishes those moments with his family, which allow him to unwind and recharge.

© Photographic collections / Cour grand-ducale

Prince Henri playing football with his son, Prince Guillaume

Pictures of the Grand Duke

Prince Henri in a car at the Schueberfouer © Tony Krier

Prince Henri visiting the Schueberfouer in 1960

Prince Henri with his brothers and sisters © Private collection

Prince Henri with his brothers and sisters at Berg Castle

Grand Duke Henri with his parents, sisters and brothers © Tony Krier

Grand Duke Henri with his parents, sisters and brothers

The Grand Ducal Family © Reginald Davis

The Grand Ducal Family

Henri and Maria Teresa in Geneva © Private collection

Prince Henri and Maria Teresa Mestre in Geneva

Family photo © Photographic collections / Maison grand-ducale de Luxembourg

Grand Duke Jean, Grand Duchess Charlotte, Prince Henri and the little Prince Guillaume

Family photo on the balcony © Photographic collections / Maison grand-ducale de Luxembourg

Grand Duke Jean, the Hereditary Couple and Little Prince Guillaume on the balcony of the Grand Ducal Palace

 

Grand Duke and Prince Guillaume © Private collection

Snack time: Grand Duke and Prince Guillaume

Prince Henri in his office © Reginald Davis

Portrait of Prince Henri

Three generations on a ski holiday in 1983 © Private collection

Three generations on a ski holiday in 1983

The Grand Ducal Couple © Private collection

The Grand Ducal Couple

© Cour grand-ducale
The Grand Duke visits Australia © Private collection

2000: The Grand Duke meets a koala in Australia

National Day 2003 © LuxPress

The Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duke on National Day 2003

Family photo © Private collection

Family photo in the garden of Berg Castle

Family photo in the garden © Private collection

Family photo in the garden of Berg Castle

The Grand Duke and Grand Duke Jean © Cour grand-ducale / David Nivière

The Grand Duke and the Grand Duke Jean during the summer holidays in 2015

The Grand Duke awards a medal to an athlete © Guy Wolff
The Grand Duke with a pelican © Private collection

2000: The Grand Duke on a trip to Australia

The Grand Duke at the beach © Cyril Bailleul

2000: The Grand Duke on a trip to Australia

Opening of the Stafelter Tunnel © LuxPress

The Grand Duke at the opening of the Stafelter Tunnel

The Grand Duke on a nature walk © Cour grand-ducale / Cédric Allié

The Grand Duke on a nature walk

Group picture "Meet Luxembourg" in 2016 © Luc Deflorenne

Meet Luxembourg in 2016

The Grand Ducal Couple takes a walk in the garden © 2017 Cour grand-ducale / Lola Velasco

The Grand Ducal Couple in the garden of Berg Castle

The Grand Ducal Couple talking to people at the night shelter © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli

Visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of the Night Shelter ‘Wanteraktioun’

The Grand Ducal Couple and Xavier Bettel © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli

Inauguration of the 'Kaddish' monument in memory of the victims of the Shoah Luxembourg

Group picture © Charles Caratini

The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess at the 50th anniversary of the APEMH

Opening of the House of Startups © House of StartUps

The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess at the opening of the House of Startups.

Group picture ‘Salon Révélations’ in Paris © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

Inauguration of the ‘Salon Révélations’ in Paris in 2019

The Grand Ducal Couple © Cour grand-ducale
The Grand Duke visiting an exhibition © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

16th Informal Meeting of the Heads of State of the German-speaking countries

The Grand Duke admires a work of art © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

The Grand Duke visiting Art Week in 2019

The Grand Duke in Pétange © Cour grand-ducale / Claude Piscitelli

The Grand Duke attends the commemorative ceremony of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the town of Pétange in 2019

The Grand Ducal Couple talking to a man at the market © Cour grand-ducale / Sophie Margue

The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess visit the market of Angoulême

Family photo © Private collection

Skiing holidays in Switzerland in 2019

The Grand Duke holds an owl © Maison du Grand-Duc / Sophie Margue
The Grand Duke lets a bird fly © Maison du Grand-Duc / Sophie Margue
 

Biographies of the members of the Grand Ducal Family

Download the biography

Activities of the Grand Duke