With the enthronement of His Royal Highness the Grand-Duke Henri of Luxembourg began the reigns of a new generation of European princes, having the last one of the past generation been enthroned as late as in 1993. Although fairly reduced due to the health of Prince Guillaume, the new Grand-Duke’s youngest brother, the ceremonies, which took place in the capital of the Grand-Duchy, attracted not only the world’s media but also thousands of subjects of the new Grand-Duke and tourists from the neighbouring countries, especially from Belgium. The streets of the city were decorated with flags of the Grand-Duchy and those of the Grand-Ducal Family, the House of Nassau-Weilburg, apart of those in the “Rue de la Reine” with the monogram of the new sovereign of Luxembourg (an “H” surmounted by the crown), over the blue and orange of the flag of the House. A long red carpet had been laid from the main entrance of the Grand-Ducal Palace and into the Chamber of Deputies, continuing through a number of streets around the square
The ceremonies began early in the morning inside the Grand-Ducal Palace, which stands next to the Chamber of Deputies, where the enthronement would take place, almost looking as if it was the same building. As had happened in 1964, a desk and a chair had been disposed for the Grand-Duke to sign his abdication. Guests to the short and discreet ceremony included the Government, a delegation of the Chamber, the Mayor of Luxembourg-City, the Archbishop of Luxembourg, the members of the Grand-Ducal Family, the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Queen of the Netherlands, among other authorities of Luxembourg. The entrance of the Hereditary Grand-Ducal couple, Henri in uniform and Maria Teresa in a beautiful long dress, preceded the one of Their Royal Highnesses the Grand-Duke and Grand-Duchess of Luxembourg, Jean and Josephine Charlotte.
The Grand-Duke immediately sat and was delivered the abdication decree, which he signed, immediately turning his son into new head of state, the new Grand-Duke of Luxembourg and Duke of Nassau. Grand-Duke Jean rose to the applause of the invitees and greeted his son, before listening to the speech by the Prime Minister, Mr. Juncker, who paid homage to Grand-Duke Jean, whose reign, he said “was irreproachable”. After briefly talking to all the guests of the abdication ceremony, the Grand-Ducal Family and the Belgian and Dutch sovereigns retired from TV view, while the other guests moved to the Chamber, through an internal door which links it to the Palace.
At 11 am, exactly half an hour after the beginning of the ceremonies, the new Grand-Duke and Grand-Duchess of Luxembourg left the Grand-Ducal Palace and, through the red carpet, walked some meters towards the main entrance of the Chamber, saluting those who cheered them. They had been preceded by Grand-Duke Jean and Grand-Duchess Josephine Charlotte (who had left in cortege with the Belgian and Dutch sovereigns), and were followed by their children: Prince Sebastian, Princess Alexandra, Prince Louis, Prince Felix and the new heir to the throne, although not yet Hereditary Grand-Duke, Prince Guillaume. On their entrance to the building, and as they mounted the staircase, music sounded from the Grand Room of the Chamber, where all the deputies and the Government had been placed to welcome them, what was done with applause and to the sound of the Grand-Ducal Anthem, which had also been played by the military band when they left the Palace.
In the tribune, towards which Their Royal Highnesses moved, after going through the room, were disposed the ancient throne of the Grand-Duchy (which had been lost for decades and was restored for this occasion) and six other chairs in different altitudes: two, with arms, in the same level of the throne, for the Grand-Duchess and Prince Guillaume, and the others, subsequently lower, to the other children of the Grand-Ducal couple. The session was opened by the President of the Chamber, who announced that reasing of the Abdication Decree, by the Prime Minister, which was done in French, followed by the President’s own speech, in Luxembourguese, the national idiom. He mentioned history, the reign of Grand-Duke Jean, the strength of the monarchy and the development of Luxembourg and finished by wishing “to Grand-Duke Henri and, by his side, to Grand-Duchess Maria Teresa and to the hereditary prince Guillaume, a prosperous reign at the head of our country, reign that will be inscribed in the history of our nation, like will the one that ends today.”
During the speech of the President of the Chamber, the Grand-Duke was visibly nervous. He stood when the President, Mr. Spautz, invited him to swear allegiance to the Constitution, and came forward, raising his right hand and prepared to repeat the words of the constitutional formula. But the nervousness betrayed the Grand-Duke and he failed to fully repeat the formula which was being narrated by the President, who, at the end, declared the swearing accepted and proclaimed Henri the new Grand-Duke of Luxembourg, inviting all the deputies to join him in the “vive” to the Grand-Ducal couple. The Grand-Duke returned to the throne and delivered his “speech from the throne”, during which he said:
“In presence of the Grand-Duchess and our children, and in front of the elected representatives of the Luxembourguese nation, I have just promised to observe our Constitution and our laws, to maintain the national independence and to defend our freedom.”
The Grand-Duke underlined the preparation that his parents had given him, and the history of the dynasty since the reign of Grand-Duchess Charlotte, as well as the development of the Grand-Duchy in her reign and in the reign of Grand-Duke Jean, during which he said, the people made Luxembourg a modern state, with a developed economy in every sense. His Royal Highness expressed his clear views on the European Union: it is necessary to find the middle point between the integration and the maintenance of sovereignty. The Grand-Duke finished committing himself and his family to the service of the nation:
“In front of the representatives of the country’s institutions, I promise today to all the citizens that, with the help and support of Grand-Duchess, of Guillaume and our other children, I will act to the interests of our homeland and of all those who live here. Like our family did in the past, we want to be next to all the Luxembourguese people, and share all their happiness and all their sadness.
“The support that our family has had in the moments of uncertainty on the health of my brother and my sister-in-law show that many people are also by our side. We are very grateful.
“I am convinced that, with your confidence and help, we will be able to give you what you deserve.”
The Grand-Ducal Family rose to the National Anthem, after which and again to the sound of the Grand-Ducal Anthem, the new Grand-Duke and the new Grand-Duchess, followed by their children, left the Grand Room and went down the staircase. In the entrance room of the Chamber, Their Royal Highnesses signed the book of honour, followed by their children and then left to the cheers of thousands of people gathered in front of the Chamber and the Palace and in the streets surrounding it, through which the cortege went. The Grand-Duchess was seen extremely relaxed as she met people, kissed them and received flowers, while the Grand-Duke did the same, as well as the heir, Prince Guillaume, who openly saluted the people. A cortege with the former Grand-Duke and Grand-Duchess and the Belgian and Dutch sovereigns followed. The people was seen extremely excited and the excitement grew when the Grand-Ducal couple appeared in the balcony of the Palace, being later joined by the whole family.