Luxembourg Royalty: Grand Duchess Charlotte (1919-64)

Grand Duchess Charlotte reigned in the small ducy of Luxembourg for nearly a half a century during the most tumultous times of the 20th century. And Luxembourg could not be located in a more dangerous location--nesteled between Germany and France. Her people saw her as an important was an important national symbol. Granbd Duchess regularly broadcasts to her couuntrymen on BBC during the war. It was illegal to listen, but many did and the broadcasts gave heart to her countrymen enduring NAZI occupation. The result was to make Charlotte and the monarchy a beloved national symbol.


Grand Duchess Charlotte's father was William IV ( Guillaume ) IV von Nassau, Grand Duke of Luxemburg (1852- ). He only rosew to the throne late in life (1905-12) just before World war I. Her mother was Marie-Anne, Princess of Braganca, Princess ( Infanta ) of Portugal.


Princess Charlotte was born at Berg Castle, in Luxembourg, (1896). She was born Josephine-Charlotte of the House of Nassau-Weilberg. As the second child, she was not at her birth heir to the crown.


William IVand Marie-Ann had six children, all girls. We have no information at this time on how the children were dressed. All of the girls except the two oldest married German princes.

Marie Adelaide (1894-1924

Marie Adelaide was born in 1894. She never married. After Luxemburg was liberated from the Germans following World War I, she was accused of pro-German sympathies. As a result, she abdicated in 1919. At this time Luxemburg almost became a republic. This is what happened throughout Germany when the Kaisser and other German royals were forced to abdigate. Marie Adelaide died in 1924.

Charlotte (1896- )

Charlotte was the second child.

Hilda (1897- )

Hilda was born in 1897. She mariied Prince Adolf of Schwarzenburg.

Antoinette (1869- )

Antonia was born in 1899. She married Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria (1899- ) in 1921 after his family had been deposed. It was his second marriage and he was quite a bit older than her. The Bacarian royal family was deposed in 1918, but the Luxemburg royal family was not.

Elisabeth (1901- )

Elisabeth was born in 1901. She married Prince Ludwig Philipp of Thurn und Taxis (1901- ).

Sophie (1902- )

Sophie was born in 1902. She married Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony (1902-1941)


Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg was born at Berg Castle on January 23, 1896. We have no information on her childhood at this time.

World War I (1914-18)

Germany invaded and occupied Luxembourg along with the invasion of Belgium at the onset of World War I (1914). Unlike Belgium, Luxembourg did not have an army tpo resist. The Duchy was occupied throughout the War. Princess Adelaide had suceeded her father as Grand Duchess just before the War (1912). Thge Germans as occupiers were arrogant and very tough, but wiuthin the limits of military law. They were not the World Wwar II NAZIs which acted beyond, but the Germans thoroiughly allienated the local population. As Grand Duchess Adelaide was very friendly to the occupying Germans,she alienated public support for the monaerchy, despite German control of the media. The German occupation did not end until the Armistice was signed (1919). Liberal and socialist politicans hoped to end the monarhy. Some favored a republic. Others wanted to join Belgium to ensure that the Germans would never take over the Duchy. There was some chance of it because Grand Duchess Adelaide has brought the monarchy into disrepute. In the end, Grand Duchess Adelaide abdicated. Princess Charlotte promised the government that she would not meddle in state affairs. She accepted a new democratic constitution with place substantial limits on the power of the monarchy.


After the abdication of her elder sister, Princess Charlotte, became Grand Duchess (January 15, 1919). The titled heads of Germany in 1918-19 were dethroned throughout thevnew Republic as a result of the disaster of World War I. There was talk of also creating a republic in Luxembourg. The people of Luxembourg which had been occupied by the German Army, however, voted in a plebiscite by an overwhelming majority to confirm her title and position (September 28, 1919).


Charlotte after the plebiscite on November 6, 1919, married Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma (1893-1970) (November 6, 1919). The marriage ceremony was conducted at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Luxembourg. Félix became Prince Consort. Félix was her cousin on their mothers' side. Both Charlotte and Félix were great grand-children of the exiled king Miguel of Portugal.

Figure 1.--This is Charlotte's second son Charles who was born in 1927. He looks to be wearin a double breasted jacket with an open collared shirt, probanly about 1935. He looks to be wearing knickers and long stockinfs, but the image os not very clear.


Charlotte and Félix had six children. The family included four girls and two boys. John ( Jean ) who was born in 1921. They had five more children; Princess Elizabeth, Princess Marie-Adelaide, Princess Marie Gabriele, Prince Charles and Prince Alix. The other children were born in relatively short secession. The youngest child was Alix who was born in 1929. We know very little about the family and the childhood of the children at this time. The royal family fled the country when the Germans invaded for a second time (1940). They spent the war in Britain, returning after the War. Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated in favor of John in 1964.

Children's Clothes

We have only limited information on how the children were dressed. The girls all wore dresses. The boys all wore wore short pants suits when younger.

Inter-War Years

Luxembourg prospered even during the inter-Wars years. It was not as badly affected by the Depression of the 1930s as many other countries.

Royal Relatives

The Luxembourg royal family had relations througout Europe. Many of theirv German relsatives lost their crowns in 1918 when Germany became a republic, but still had their crowns. We note a quite a large portrait taken in 1931. We see Chrande Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix. We cannot, however, ifentify the children and adults in the portrait. Perhaps our readers will be able to identify some of the individuals.

World War II (1939-45)

Luxembourg attempted to remain neutral, but was again engulhed by the World War II. The Germans invaded neutral Luxembourg again in 1940 and the Duchy had to endure a second German occupation, this time even more brutal. Charlotte with her family fled to Portugal and from there to England. They eventually found refuge in Canada. (America was not yet in the War.) A Government in exile was formed in London. Charlotte's husband Felix and her son Jean served in the Allied army fighting the Germans. The NAZIs regarded Luxembourg rather like Alsace as rightfully part of Germany. This time Luxembourg was incorporated into the Reich by the NAZIs until liberation in 1945. After Luxembourg was annexed by the Reich, the populastion became German citizens. The Germans conscripted thousands of men for service in the German military. Others both men and women were conscriped for Warwork in the Reich. Granbd Duchess regularly broadcasts to her couuntrymen on BBC during the war. It was illegal to listen, but many did and the broadcasts gave heart to her countrymen enduring NAZI occupation. The result was to make Charlotte and the monarchy a beloved national symbol.

Post-War Era

Luxembourg was not badly damaged until the last months of the War during the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945). Th immediate post-War period was difficult, but Luxembourg benefitted from the post recivery abnd the move toward European economic integration. Luxembourg joined the Benelux union and became a founding member of the EuropeanEconomic Community (EEC). The EEC evolved into tiday's European Union (EU). A touching ceremony in America occurred at the end iof the Grand Duchess' reign. President John F. Kennedy held a formal state dinner to honor Grand Duchess Charlotte (1963). She was at the time the longest reigning monarch in Europe. Upon arrival at the White House she received a 21 gun salute and full military honors.


An aging Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated in favor of her elest son John (1964).


Grand Duchess Charlotte died on July 9, 1985. On the day after her death, the government decided to have a monument erected in memory of this great and noble lady. The monument, financed by national subscription, was inaugurated on April 29, 1990 at the Place Clairefontaine in Luxembourg.


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Created: May 9, 2002
Last updated: 10:09 PM 6/24/2009