by Susan Flantzer
Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume) was born on April 16, 1955 in Betzdorf Castle in Luxembourg. He is the eldest son and second child of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, and a first cousin of King Philippe of the Belgians. Grand Duke Henri has four siblings:
- Princess Marie-Astrid (born 1954), married Carl Christian, Prince Imperial and Archduke of Austria, has issue
- Prince Jean (born 1957), married (1) Hélène Vestur, has issue, couple divorced, (2) Diane De Guerre, no issue
- Princess Margaretha (born 1957, twin of Prince Jean), married Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, has issue
- Prince Guillaume (born 1963), married Sibilla Weiller, great-granddaughter of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, has issue
Henri received his primary and secondary education in Luxembourg and France. In 1974, he enrolled at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and was commissioned an officer in 1975. Henri studied political science at the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, both in Geneva, Switzerland and he graduated with honors in 1980.
While studying in Geneva, Henri met his future wife, María Teresa Mestre y Batista-Falla, who was also a political science student. María Teresa was born in Cuba, but her parents left Cuba when she was three years old and she grew up in New Jersey and New York City. The engagement took Luxembourg by surprise when it was announced on November 8, 1980. The couple married civilly at the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg City on February 4, 1981 and religiously on February 14, 1981 at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City.
The couple have five children:
- Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg (born 1981), married Stéphanie de Lannoy
- Prince Félix of Luxembourg (born 1984), married Claire Lademacher, one daughter: Princess Amalia of Nassau (born 2014)
- Prince Louis of Luxembourg (born 1986), married Tessy Antony, two sons: Prince Gabriel of Nassau (born 2006) and Prince Noah of Nassau (born 2007)
- Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg (born 1991)
- Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg (born 1992)
On October 7, 2000, Grand Duke Jean abdicated, Henri became Grand Duke, and took the constitutional oath before the Chamber of Deputies later that day. Grand Duke Henri is a constitutional monarch and therefore has limited powers. He has the power to appoint the Prime Minister and Government, to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, to proclaim laws enacted by the Chamber of Deputies, and to accredit ambassadors. Grand Duke Henri is Commander-in-Chief of the Luxembourg Army, in which he holds the rank of General.
Grand Duke Henri is active in a number of organizations. He is a member of the International Olympic Committee, a member of The Mentor Foundation established by the World Health Organization as an international NGO voice of drug use and substance abuse prevention, and a Director of the Charles Darwin Trust for the Galapagos Islands.
Read more about the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg here!