Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg

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:


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:

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.

On April 9, 1953 Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005), daughter of Léopold III, King of the Belgians at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.


Jean and Joséphine-Charlotte had a happy 52-year marriage which ended with Joséphine-Charlotte’s death in 2005.  The couple had five children:

On November 12, 1964, Jean’s mother Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated and he became Grand Duke.  Grand Duke Jean then reigned until October 7, 2000 when he abdicated in favor of his eldest son Henri.

Jean Henri Guillaume

Grand Duke Jean with his son Grand Duke Henri and his grandson Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume; Photo: Zimbio

Visit the official website of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg here (in French, biographies in English)
Read more about your favorite royal families here.