by Susan Flantzer
Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg was the reigning Grand Duke from 1964 until 2000, when he abdicated in favor of his eldest son. Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano was born on January 5, 1921 at Berg Castle in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg. He was the eldest of six children of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma. Jean had one younger brother and four younger sisters:
- Elizabeth (1922 – 2011) married Franz, Duke of Hohenberg
- Marie Adelaide (1924 – 2007) married Karl Josef, Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck
- Marie Gabriele (born1925) married Knud Johan, Count of Holstein-Ledreborg
- Charles (1927 – 1977) married Joan Douglas Dillon, daughter of U.S. Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon
- Alix (born 1929) married Antoine, 13th Prince of Ligne
Jean received his primary education and started his secondary education In Luxembourg. He completed his secondary education at Ampleforth College, a Roman Catholic boarding school in Yorkshire, England. When Jean reached the age of 18, he was styled Hereditary Grand Duke, recognizing his status the heir apparent.
The day before Germany invaded Luxembourg in May 1940, the Grand Ducal family left for Paris, France where they stayed for several weeks. They then went to the United States, where they rented an estate on Long Island in Brookville, New York. Later they lived in Canada, and the United Kingdom. During this time period, Jean studied law and political science at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada.
In October 1942, Prince Félix and Hereditary Grand Duke Jean left Canada for the United Kingdom to join the British Army. Jean joined the Irish Guards on the advice of King George VI of the United Kingdom. After some preliminary training, Jean completed his military education at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and later was promoted to lieutenant. Jean landed near Bayeux, Normandy on June 11, 1944, five days after D-Day. He took part in the Battle for Caen and the liberation of Brussels. On September 10, 1944, he took part in the liberation of Luxembourg before participating in the invasion of Germany.
For his military service, Jean received the following military decorations:
- Luxembourg War Cross with Palm
- Silver Star Medal (USA)
- French Croix de Guerre
- Belgian Croix de Guerre
- Orlogsherinneringskruis (Netherlands)
- 1939-1945 Star (UK)
- France and Germany Star (UK)
- Defence Medal (UK)
- War Medal 1939-1945 (UK)
- Cross-Resistance (Luxembourg)
- Military Medal (Luxembourg)
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom appointed Jean Colonel of the Regiment of the Irish Guards in 1984 and Honorary General of the British Army in 1995.
- Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium
Jean and Joséphine-Charlotte had a happy 52-year marriage which ended with Joséphine-Charlotte’s death in 2005. The couple had five children:
- Princess Marie Astrid (born 1954) married Archduke Carl Christian of Austria
- Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (born 1955) married María Teresa Mestre y Batista
- Prince Jean (born 1957) married (1) Hélène Vestur (divorced) (2) Diane De Guerre
- Princess Margaretha (born 1957) married Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein
- Prince Guillaume (born 1963) married Sibilla Weiller