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Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg dies aged 98

Ruler of Grand Duchy for 36 years took part in D-day landings with British army

WT24 Desk

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who took part in the D-day landings with the British army before spending nearly 36 years as his country’s head of state, has died aged 98, The Guardian reports.

He had abdicated in 2000 to make way for his son, Henri, who said his father died surrounded by family.

Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano was born on 5 January 1921, the eldest child of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix. As the 19-year-old heir to Luxembourg’s throne, Jean fled the Grand Duchy under the protection of the French army when German forces invaded on 9 May 1940.

He lived in exile in France, Portugal, the US and Canada, with the rest of the royal family, before arriving in Britain where he volunteered for the Irish Guards in November 1942, on the advice of King George VI.

After training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Jean landed near Bayeux, Normandy, on 11 June 1944, five days after D-day.

He took part in the Battle for Caen and the liberation of Brussels. On 10 September 1944, Jean returned to Luxembourg, crossing the border at Rodange, from where he had fled the country four years earlier.

Jean returned to battle three days later, taking part in fighting in Arnhem and the Ardennes before joining the invasion of Nazi Germany.

In April 1945, he welcomed his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, to liberated Luxembourg, succeeding her in November 1964.

During his reign, Luxembourg became a centre for financial services after decades of economic decline. Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium in 1953, with whom he had five children. He died a week after being admitted to hospital with a pulmonary infection.

In a statement, Grand Duke Henri said: “It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my beloved father, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean, who has passed away in peace, surrounded by the affection of his family.”

The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who was one of Jean’s prime ministers, said: “Like all the people of Luxembourg, I had great esteem for this man of commitment, kindness and courage who, throughout his reign and in all circumstances, gave the best of himself to his country.

“Grand Duke Jean has always been close to Luxembourgers who are today united in the same sadness.”

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