The Grand-Ducal Court of Luxembourg has released a new photo to mark Grand Duke Jean’s 98th birthday on Saturday, 5 January 2018.

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg. Photo: © Grand Ducal Court, Vic Fischbach

Grand Duke Jean is the world’s oldest and longest-living former monarch, and only about six months older than Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

He reigned Luxembourg from 12 November 1964, when his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte stepped down, until his own abdication on 7 October 2000, in favour of his eldest son, Grand Duke Henri.

His reign was one of the most prosperous ever known by the Grand Duchy which contributed to political, economic and social life in Luxembourg, and providing unprecedented stability for the nation.

Early Life

He was born Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’avians at Colmar-Berg on 5 January 1921, the eldest son of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Félix of Luxembourg.

His father’s ancestors include French Kings, Louis IX and Louis XIV.

Prince Jean was educated in Luxembourg and completed secondary school at the Catholic boarding school Ampleforth College in Great Britain.

He became the Hereditary Grand Duke, as their heir-apparent, when he came of age on 5 January 1939.

Exile During World War II

The Grand Ducal Family were forced into exile after receiving the dire warning of an imminent German invasion. They fled to France, Portugal, the United States and Canada.

However, on 6 October 1942, Prince Félix and the Hereditary Grand Duke arrived in Great Britain to join the British Army. King George VI suggested Prince Jean join the Irish Guards. Grand Duke Jean also studied at the Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he obtained the rank of Second Lieutenant on 28 July 1943.

On the same day in 1943, Grand Duke Jean addressed the people of Luxembourg via BBC radio.

In August 1943, Prince Jean served as a guard at Buckingham Palace, where he had to remain motionless, especially when his mother and sisters paid a visit when he was on duty.

Grand Duke fought in the Battle of Caen (Operation Goodwood) after landing in Normandy on 11 June 1944. He helped with the liberation of Brussell and served on the military staff of the 32nd brigade of the Guards Armoured Division in Normandy.

On 10 September 1944, he crossed the border at Rodange with his father, Prince Félix, to liberate Luxembourg from Nazi occupation.

However, Prince Jean fought in the Battle of the Bulge to block the German route towards Antwerp.

Once the German resistance had been broken, Prince Jean, as part of the Guards Armoured Division began moving towards Bremen and Hamburg.

At the beginning of April 1945, Prince Jean received orders to return to Luxembourg to welcome his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte who arrived home to an overjoyed population.

Grand Duke Jean was appointed as a Stranger Knight of Britain’s most prestigious order of chivalry, the Order of the Garter in 1972.

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain promoted Prince Jean to Colonel of the Irish Guards regiment on 21 August 1984 and made Honorary General of the British Army on 17 March 1995.

Marriage

Prince Jean married Princess Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium at Luxembourg Cathedral. They set up home at the Château de Betzdorf where their five children, Princess Marie-Astrid, Prince Henri, Prince Jean, Princess Margaretha and Prince Guillaume were born.

Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte moved to Fischbach Castle in 2002, following his retirement.

He has lived alone since his wife’s death in 2005.

Interests

Grand Duke Jean is interested in environmental issues, protecting fauna and flora, and enjoys sports, photography and music.

He is the Chief Scout of the Luxembourg Boy Scouts Association; Honorary President of the Luxemburg Olympic and Sports Committee; Member and, since 1998, Honorary Dean of the International Olympic Committee.

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