Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg



Grand Duchess Charlotte (born 23 January 1896, dies 9 July 1985), was the Head of State of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from 1919. The occupation of Luxembourg by the German army made the grand ducal family and the government leave the country and eventually find refuge in the United Kingdom and Canada. In 1945, upon her return to Luxembourg she visited the regions devastated during the ‘Battle of the Bulge’.

Grand Duchess Charlotte was born on 23 January 1896 at Berg castle, Luxembourg. She was the second daughter of Grand Duke Guillaume IV and Grand Duchess Maria Ana. She ascended the throne following the abdication of her sister, Marie-Adélaïde in January 1919.

Against the threatening propaganda from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, Luxembourgers developed strong patriotic feelings at the heart of which they placed Grand Duchess Charlotte.

On 10 May 1940, German troops invaded the neutral Grand Duchy. Following a secret decision taken together with the government, the Grand Duchess Charlotte and her family left Luxembourg and took refuge in France. Through Spain and Portugal they made it to the United Kingdom. Eventually the official seat of the Luxembourg government was established in London while the grand ducal family went to live in Montréal, Canada.

During her stay in Canada, she travelled to the United States of America several times to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

From November 1942, she lived near London. Her husband, Prince Félix, served in the Northern Command of the British army. Her oldest son, Crown Prince Jean, volunteered and served in the Irish Guards.

Grand Duchess Charlotte addressed the Luxembourgers a total of 14 times from abroad over the BBC on the radio.

When Luxembourg was liberated on 10 September 1944 by American troops, Prince Félix and Crown Prince Jean were greeted by the population of the city, happy to have regained their liberty.

Upon her return from exile, on 14 April 1945, the Grand Duchess was welcomed home by an enthusiastic crowd. She was not only Luxembourg’s Head of State, but the symbol of the country’s resistance and the protector of the Luxembourg people.

In the following months she visited the regions that had been devastated during the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ in the winter of 1944 to 1945, strengthening thus the country’s sense of solidarity.

On 12 November 1964, after 45 years of reign, Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated in favour of Crown Prince Jean.

She died on 9 July 1985 at the age of 89, fifteen years after her husband.