Luxembourg crown prince takes office as new Grand Duke

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The Independent Online

Crown Prince Henri, 45, was sworn in as Luxembourg's new monarch Saturday when his father, Grand Duke Jean, stepped down after 36 years at an abdication ceremony attended by royals from Belgium and the Netherlands.

Crown Prince Henri, 45, was sworn in as Luxembourg's new monarch Saturday when his father, Grand Duke Jean, stepped down after 36 years at an abdication ceremony attended by royals from Belgium and the Netherlands.

On a sunny day, Henri pledged allegiance in the parliament, next door to the grand ducal palace - a Disneyesque affair of turrets and wrought-iron that dominates the picturesque city center with its narrow cobblestoned streets, squares and alleys.

Afterward, he and his Cuban-born wife, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, strolled from the parliament, around the block - waving to spectators and shaking outstretched hands - back to palace for a balcony appearance.

In the narrow street below, hundreds cheered them and their five children who joined them on the balcony.

"Luxembourgers love their royals," said Jean-Pierre Dumont, one elderly grand ducal subject. "They are very normal people. You see them in the street, in the cinema, even ... No, I don't think much will change under Henri. And that is good for Luxembourg."

The abdication and oath taking ceremonies reinforced the endearing Ruritanian quality of this uneventful nation of 429,000 wedged between Belgium, France and Germany.

Luxembourg measures only 82 by 57 kilometers (52 by 36 miles). Henri took the oath of office in full military dress for he now commands a 450-strong army guarding a country of forests and valleys that knows no poverty, unemployment or social unrest.

The capital city straddles a deep, craggy ravine that was first settled in the 10th century. It is lined by 23 kilometers (14 miles) of centuries-old fortifications.

The country's national motto is 'Mir Wolle Bleiwe Wat Mir Sin', or 'We Want To Stay What We Are' and continuity is what the new monarch promised his overwhelmingly Roman Catholic subjects.

In his first address, he urged them to retain family values, to ensure equal rights for men and women and to not be blinded by their own prosperity that comes from relaxed banking rules that have brought hundreds of financial institutions to gleaming offices ringing the old city center.

Speaking in Luxembourgish, which is a blend of French and German, He said,

"We have received a great deal. Yet are we giving enough in return? Are we not too selfish? Do we still notice people less fortunate than ourselves here in Luxembourg and abroad?"

A nation's development, the new grand duke said, must not only be reflected in output statistics but also "the number of people who undertake charity work."

Henri became Luxembourg's sixth grand duke since 1890, when the modern monarchy was established. His farther, 79, resigned after 36 years.

Overshadowing Saturday's festivities was the fact that Prince Guillaume, 37, Henri's youngest brother, remains in serious condition in a Paris hospital after a Sept. 10 accident in which his rental car was smashed from behind by another car.

Parades, concerts and fireworks were canceled or rescheduled because of Prince Guillaume's condition. He was on a life-support machine for three weeks.

The ceremonies were attended by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Belgium's King Albert and Queen Paola. Albert is the brother of Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte, Jean's wife. Beatrix's husband, Prince Claus, won't be able to attend, however, due to a recent operation.

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