Saturday, December 10, 2011

Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg OIH (born at Betzdorf Castle in Betzdorf, Luxembourg, 16 April 1955) is the head of state of Luxembourg. He is the eldest son of Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium. His maternal grandparents were King Leopold III of Belgium and Astrid of Sweden. He is a nephew of the current King of the Belgians, Albert II.

Childhood and education
Grand Duke Henri has four siblings: Archduchess Marie Astrid of Austria (b. 1954), Prince Jean of Luxembourg (b. 1957), Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein (b. 1957) and Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg (b. 1963).

Henri became Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg on 12 November 1964 and was educated in Luxembourg and in France, where he obtained his baccalaureate in 1974. He then studied political sciences at University of Geneva, graduating in 1980. The Grand Duke also undertook military officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England.

While studying in Geneva, Henri met the former María Teresa Mestre y Batista, who was also a political sciences student. They married in Luxembourg on 4 February/14 February 1981 with the previous consent of the Grand Duke, dated 7 November 1980.

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.

Henri's full name, style and title is: His Royal Highness Henri, by the Grace of God, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Count of Sayn, Königstein, Katzenelnbogen and Diez, Burgrave of Hammerstein, Lord of Mahlberg, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Merenberg, Limburg and Eppstein.

However, on ascending the throne, Grand Duke Henri relinquished the styling "by the Grace of God", and in the laws, decrees, and official documents his name and title is: "Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau".

Euthanasia controversy
On 2 December 2008 it was announced that Grand Duke Henri had stated he would refuse to sign into law the act on euthanasia that had been voted on earlier in the year by the Chamber of Deputies. A second and final vote has yet to take place, at which point signature of the Grand Duke would be necessary to approve and enact the law. Whilst the long-term implications for the constitutional position of the Grand Duke are unclear, it was announced by Minister of State Jean-Claude Juncker that a Constitutional Amendment would be proposed, whereby the signature of the Monarch would no longer be necessary for a law to take effect. This would remove one of the legislative roles of the Grand Duke, namely approving new legislation. The Luxembourg royal house has tried to block a decision by parliament only once before, when the Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide refused to sign an education bill in 1912.

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 Parachute 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 Organisation) and a Director of the Charles Darwin Trust for the Galapagos 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, the former Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium.

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 on 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 itself 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.

On February 3, 2011, Henri was admitted to the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg after becoming 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 surgery had been a success. “The state of His Royal Highness’ health is not disturbing,” the statement read, before stating the Grand Duke may leave 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 on the third, 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. As of February 5, he is currently believed to be spending time at Berg Castle in Colmar-Berg.

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