Grand Duchess alleges misogyny as role in palace is pruned


The grand ducal couple in February celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary (Photo: Nader Ghavami/Maison Moderne) 

Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri has no plans to abdicate in the near future, he said in an interview with Paris Match, which also saw the Grand Duchess call attempts to diminish her role in the palace misogynist. 

The royal household is undergoing a series of reforms after a report into the workings of the palace pointed to shortcomings in staff management and the separation of the family’s public and private fortunes and activities.

The grand ducal couple last year bought an apartment in Biarritz, France, prompting speculation that the grand duke was readying for retirement. “The day will come, of course, but the moment certainly hasn’t arrived yet. I think I still have things to achieve before handing over to my son,” the monarch told Paris Match.

Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa on 14 February celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

The so-called Waringo report into the royal household last year had recommended limiting the role of the monarch’s spouse to a purely representational function, giving her no place in the official running of the palace.

“Attempting to reduce the grand ducal institution to one single representative of presidential type is to amputate it,” Maria Teresa said in the interview, adding: “While Luxembourg wants to be exemplary in matters of equality between women and men, there is without question a sort of misogyny in wanting to expunge the Grand Duke’s spouse.”

Henri, in the interview conducted by royal correspondent Stéphane Bern on 24 January, said: “To me, the monarchy must be carried by the reigning couple and the grand ducal family,” adding: “I would not have been able to carry out well this task--heavy with responsibilities and sacrifices in terms of freedom--without the wife I love by my side.”

But Luxembourg’s head of state also said he had been raised following the motto adopted by the UK’s royals: “Never complain, never explain.”

The interview could nonetheless rankle Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (DP) who spearheaded the reform efforts.

The Grand Duke issued a rare personal statement in support of his wife to members of the press ahead of the Waringo report’s publication. Bettel during a press conference at the time said he had not known about the message before it was sent, but said there should be more coordination on communication matters. Henri reportedly had to recall the dismissal of his chief of staff, because the executive hadn’t validated the decision.

The royal household in December launched a new website, with a separate platform dedicated to the grand duchess’s work eliminated in the process. The government also founded the so-called Maison du Grand-Duc, a new structure to organise palace administration and manage public finances.

The reorganisation came with several high-profile appointments, including new Maréchale de la Cour Yuriko Backes (the most senior administrative position in the palace), and a recruitment drive to grow palace staff in several departments, such as HR and communications.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam.lu and has been translated and edited for Delano.