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Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium

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Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium
Joséphine-Charlotte in 1967
Grand Duchess consort of Luxembourg
Tenure12 November 1964 – 7 October 2000
Born(1927-10-11)11 October 1927
Royal Palace of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Died10 January 2005(2005-01-10) (aged 77)
Fischbach Castle, Fischbach, Luxembourg
Burial15 January 2005
(m. 1953)
Joséphine-Charlotte Stéphanie Ingeborg Elisabeth Marie-José Marguerite Astrid
FatherKing Leopold III of Belgium
MotherAstrid of Sweden

Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (11 October 1927 – 10 January 2005) was the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg as the wife of Grand Duke Jean. She was the first child of King Leopold III of Belgium, and sister of the late King Baudouin and former King Albert II and aunt of King Philippe. She was also the first cousin of King Harald V of Norway, second cousin of Margrethe II of Denmark, and a paternal third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.


Queen Astrid of the Belgians with her daughter Joséphine-Charlotte.

Joséphine-Charlotte was born in 1927 at the Royal Palace of Brussels. She was the oldest child and only daughter of the King Leopold III of Belgium and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden. She was christened a month after her birth. Her godfather was her uncle, Prince Charles, Count of Flanders and her godmother was her future mother-in-law, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.[citation needed]

While expecting her daughter, Astrid had read a biography of her ancestress, the French empress Joséphine de Beauharnais. Josephine was also the name of one of the child's great-aunts, Princess Joséphine-Caroline of Belgium, the dearest sister of King Albert I. Astrid was a devoted mother to her "little Jo". The young princess spent her childhood at the Château of Stuyvenberg in Laeken, northern Brussels, with her parents.[1] She was the sister of Belgian monarchs Baudouin and Albert II.[2]

Joséphine-Charlotte's mother was killed in an automobile accident in 1935 when Joséphine-Charlotte was nearly eight.[3] The Belgian public extended their enormous sympathies onto the grieving family, with great concern given to the effects it had on Joséphine-Charlotte and her brothers. King Leopold remained a devoted father to his children and kept close ties with his late wife's family. Many photographs exist from this time of the children with their Swedish grandparents and Norwegian cousins.[citation needed] Later, in 1941, her father remarried to Mary Lilian Baels (later became Princess of Réthy). This marriage produced three more children: Prince Alexandre (who was also Joséphine-Charlotte's godson), Princess Marie-Christine and Princess Marie-Esméralda. Joséphine-Charlotte and her siblings had a close relationship with their stepmother and they called her "Mother".[4][5]


Princess Joséphine-Charlotte

Joséphine-Charlotte first attended school at the Royal Palace, where a small class had been organized for her.[1] She and her brothers went through a short period of exodus in France and Spain just after the surrender in 1940.[3] At the end of 1940, she entered the Boarding School of the Faithful Virgin in Brussels and studied there until 1942.[3][1] After that, she continued her education with her own private teachers at the Royal Palace of Laeken, where her family was held prisoner.[3] On 7 June 1944, the day after the Allied Forces landed in Normandy, France, she and her father were sent to Germany and kept there under house arrest. The Royal Family, which included her brothers Baudouin and Albert, her half-brother Alexandre, and their stepmother Princess Lilian, was freed on 7 May 1945 and settled in Prégny, Switzerland until 1950.[1][3]

Joséphine-Charlotte continued her studies at École Supérieure de Jeunes Filles in Geneva.[1] There, she took courses in French literature, English, history and chemistry.[3] Afterwards, she took Jean Piaget's lectures on child psychology at the University of Geneva.[1]



On 11 April 1949, Joséphine-Charlotte returned to Belgium for the first time since the war from Luxembourg.[3] A few months earlier, she expressed her desire to return to Belgium during the presentation of a gift from the Belgian delegation of the Dames de la Résistance.[3] In Bastogne, she visited Bastogne's Town Hall, the war memorial and Mardasson Memorial. She also visited Bande, Marche and Namur before reaching Brussels, where she stayed at the Royal Palace of Laeken with her grandmother, Queen Elisabeth.[3]

On 13 April 1949, Joséphine-Charlotte visited Lichtervelde and La Panne before returning to Brussels to participate in the Holy Thursday mass in Mechelen.[3] On 16 April, the Princess left Brussels and stayed at Fischbach Castle in Luxembourg for a few days before returning to Switzerland.[3] She returned to Belgium again to vote in the referendum on 12 March 1950, which ended up with the result of the maintenance of the monarchy in Belgium.[3] When she returned to Belgium, the princess took up her official duties. At the same time, she also devoted herself to social problems and developed her interest in the arts.[1]



Joséphine-Charlotte met Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg for the first time during one of her short stays with her godmother and future mother-in-law, Grand Duchess Charlotte, in Fischbach in 1948.[3] On 26 December 1952, the couple announced their engagement to the public even though they were already engaged the previous month.[citation needed] Joséphine-Charlotte and Jean were joined in marriage on 9 April 1953 in Luxembourg.[2] During their 52-year marriage, the couple had five children:[1]

Grand Duchess

Joséphine-Charlotte and Jean at the accession of Grand Duke Jean in 1964.

As a Belgian princess, Joséphine-Charlotte brought a wealth of elegance, taste and refinement to her new homeland. She carried out many social, cultural and humanitarian duties. She focused on several initiatives that she would ardently support, particularly matters pertaining to children and families.[3] After the accession of Grand Duke Jean in 1964, the Grand Ducal family, who initially lived at Betzdorf Castle, moved to the Berg Castle. Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte was actively involved in the renovation of the castle.[3]

Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte with President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the White House in 1984.

As Grand Duchess, she often accompanied her husband on foreign visits, as well as many events within Luxembourg itself.[3] She and the Grand Duke made numerous state visits such as to the Vatican and Brazil in 1965, the United Kingdom in 1972, USSR and Tunisia in 1975, Senegal in 1977, China in 1979, and the United States in 1984.[6] During her tenure as a consort, she and her husband hosted 39 state visits to Luxembourg.[6]

Joséphine-Charlotte became president of the Luxembourg Red Cross in 1964. She was president of Luxembourg Youth Section of the Red Cross.[2] She also served as honorary president of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra.[citation needed] She became the chief guide of Luxembourg’s guides movement in 1990.[citation needed] She was the patron of the Union of Voluntary Blood Donors and the Luxembourg Paediatrics Society.[citation needed] The Grand Duchess also oversaw the restoration of the Grand Ducal Palace from 1991 until 1996.[citation needed] She became a patron and honorary president of l’association pour la protection curative de l’enfance,[3] the Scouts and Guides of Luxembourg,[3] the Equestrian Federation,[3] les Jeunesses musicales,[3] the International Bazaar of Luxembourg and the Hëllef fir kriibskrank Kanner Foundation.[3] She also regularly visited Luxembourg's social and cultural centers, establishments, institutes, hospitals and nurseries.[3]

Beside secular organizations, Joséphine-Charlotte supported religious institutions such as Action Catholique des Femmes du Luxembourg (ACFL) of which she became a patron.[citation needed]



Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's favorite hobbies included gardening and horticulture. She also enjoyed hunting, fishing, skiing and other watersports.[1] The Grand Duchess also enjoyed collecting works of modern art. In 2003, the exhibition named De Manessier à Wim Delvoye presented 108 works from the private collection of the Grand Duchess at the National Museum of History and Art in Luxembourg.[3]



The Grand Duchess, who suffered from lung cancer for a long time, died at her home, Fischbach Castle in 2005, at the age of 77.[3]



Joséphine-Charlotte metro station in Brussels is named after her. One of her wedding gifts was a diamond tiara, commonly known as the Belgian Scroll Tiara, given by the Société Générale. This is now part of the Luxembourg reigning family's jewel collection.[citation needed]

On 5 December 2016, a remembrance concert in honour of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte was held in Luxembourg. The concert was performed by Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and directed by Tugan Sokhiev while Rudolf Buchbinder performed on the piano.[citation needed]










  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Notice biographique de S.A.R. la Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte". Government of Luxembourg. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg". The Daily Telegraph. 11 January 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "S.A.R. la Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte" [HRH The Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte]. Luxembourg Grand Ducal Family Official Website (in French). Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  4. ^ Cleeremans, Jean. Léopold III, sa famille, son peuple sous l'occupation; Keyes, Roger. Echec au Roi, Léopold III, 1940–1951
  5. ^ White, Sam (July 3, 1953). "Europe's Most Slandered Princess". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "S.A.R. le Grand-Duc Jean" [HRH The Grand Duke Jean]. Luxembourg Grand Ducal Official Website (in French). Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  7. ^ Icelandese Presidency Website Archived 2015-07-17 at the Wayback Machine, Josephine Charlotte; stórhertogafrú; Lúxemborg ; 1986-06-09; Stórkross (=Josephine Charlotte, Grand Duchess, Luxembourg, 9 June 1986, Grand Cross)
  8. ^ "CIDADÃOS ESTRANGEIROS AGRACIADOS COM ORDENS PORTUGUESAS - Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas". Ordens.presidencia.pt. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  9. ^ "Boletín Oficial del Estado" (PDF). Boe.est. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  10. ^ "Boletín Oficial del Estado" (PDF). Boe.est. Retrieved 2017-07-28.

Media related to Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium at Wikimedia Commons

Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 11 October 1927 Died: 10 January 2005
Luxembourgish royalty
Preceded byas prince consort Grand Duchess consort of Luxembourg
Duchess consort of Nassau

Succeeded by