Thursday evening saw the official launch of the King’s College London Alumni Association in Luxembourg, on the initiative of Simone Schmitt, its charming and dynamic chairwoman. The event was in celebration of Duel Day 2016, and commemorated the duel fought between the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchelsea over the founding of King’s College London and Wellington’s support of democratic rights for Irish Catholics.

The soirée took place in the official residence of the newly appointed British ambassador to the Grand Duchy, John Marshall, who confirmed that this was also the first event that he had officially hosted since arriving in Luxembourg several weeks ago. “It was only this morning that I presented my credentials to his royal highness the grand duke,” he explained. “And it’s also the first time that King’s College Alumni are meeting in Luxembourg. I wish you every success and hope that you grow and grow as an association.”

After admitting that he is not a graduate of King’s, but of Bristol University, Marshall claimed a number of connections, including the fact that his employer, the UK Foreign Office, had possessed a fantastic library. When they decided they no longer required this resource, they gave it to King’s on permanent loan.

He went on to explain, with tongue-in-cheek, that “there is someone we call a ‘Luxembourg desk officer’ within the EU directorate of the Foreign Office, and by chance he is a graduate of King’s. He’s not here but you might want to make him an honorary member for as long as he’s in that role.” He ended his speech by highlighting King’s reputation as one of the world’s best research institutions and its long list of illustrious alumni including his favourite author, Thomas Hardy.

Creating network of colleagues

Simone Schmitt then took to the floor and welcomed guests in her role as alumni chairwoman and one of the founders of the association. “There are currently no less than 200 King’s alumni in Luxembourg and while we don’t yet have all of their contact details, we hope that this event will encourage them to join us.”

Schmitt was born and raised in Luxembourg. She studied law in Paris for five years, spent one year in King’s College before returning to Luxembourg in 2014 when she took the bar exam. “I started the process of founding the alumni just four months ago because many of my friends also went to King’s and were waiting for something like this to happen. Our main aim is to get together, stay in touch and create that network of colleagues,” she said.

The two other co-founders, Mélody Brunot and Katia Fettes, are both lawyers working with Linklaters. “We have so many ideas,” enthused Fettes. “We’d like to attend the Foire de l’étudiant, for example, to support future students of King’s and guide them in their applications.”

Promoting British schools

Petra Kiefer, head of political, press and public affairs at the embassy agreed: “We try to encourage the alumni groups to promote the British higher education system. Potential applicants benefit from first-hand experience; it really helps to speak to someone who has recently completed their degree and can talk about the atmospheres of certain universities--this goes beyond what’s available online.”

She was clearly delighted to see King’s College alumni joining the ranks of the Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and LSE associations in Luxembourg.