Grand Duchess Charlotte, a Luxembourg icon
Charlotte, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, was an exceptional monarch who symbolised the resistance and independence of her country. A look at the unique destiny of this great woman.
A beloved Grand Duchess
Born on 23 January 1896 in Colmar-Berg castle, Charlotte was one of six children born to the Grand Duke William and Grand Duchess Marie-Anne de Bragance. As the second daughter in the family, she had a peaceful childhood, far from the usual concerns of an heir to the throne. However, after her elder sister Marie-Adélaïde abdicated in 1919, Charlotte came to the throne at the age of 23. She married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma in the same year. They had six children. Little by little, she began to touch the hearts of the Luxembourg people through her natural elegance, but above all through her commitment to her country.
“She touched the heart of the Luxembourg people through her natural elegance and her commitment to her country.”
On 9 May 1940 Luxembourg, although neutral, was invaded and annexed by Germany. The Grand Duchess chose to combat Nazism in exile, first in France, then in Portugal, before gathering in London with her government ministers. From London, she addressed the people of Luxembourg by radio, encouraging them to resist the Germans. In October 1940, she joined her children and husband in the USA, which was still neutral, to convince President Roosevelt – who became her friend – to join the war. She travelled through the United States like a real ambassador, pleading the cause of Europe and Luxembourg. Her determination to save her country’s independence – which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year – bore fruit: in December 1941, Roosevelt declared war on Germany. Three years later, US troops liberated Luxembourg. Charlotte finally returned in April 1944, and was welcomed as a true heroine.
Projects for her country
Throughout the rest of her reign, which lasted 45 years, Charlotte helped to reconstruct her country. She took part in numerous summit meetings, and played a crucial role in the creation of Benelux, leading to the economic role and international recognition enjoyed by Luxembourg today.