Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grand Duke Adolphe surrenders power

April 24, 1902

Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg has surrendered the "reins of government" to his only son, 50-year-old Wilhelm.  Grand Duke Adolphe s 85 years old. 

According to the Marquise de Fontenoy, Hereditary Grand Duke Wilhelm assumes the title Viceroy and stadholder of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, :"exercising the powers and prerogatives of regent."

Wilhelm was once "celebrated as one of the stoutest and most pleasure-seeking Princes of Europe."  He was seen as the "gayest of confirmed bachelors" until he suddenly "astonished all his friends" by marrying Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal, daughter of the late ex-King Miguel of Portugal, and sister of the Duke of Braganza, considered the legitimist pretender to the throne of Portugal.

Wilhelm and Maria Ana have been married for nine years. Although he is now the most devoted of husband, Wilhelm said at the time of the marriage that "his sole object" in marrying was to secure the succession to the Luxembourg throne. 

This marriage has proved to be unsuccessful as a dynastic arrangement. Hereditary Grand Duchess Marie Anne has given birth to five daughters in a row, and females are barred from the throne due to the Salic law.  The people of Luxembourg remain hopeful that the hereditary Grand Duchess will her duty and "provide the nation with a male heir to the grand ducal throne."

Grand Duke Adolphe has "laid down his scepter," due to age and weariness. He was once the sovereign duke of Nassau, only to be deprived of his throne by Prussia after the war in 1866.   Nassau had sided with Austria in the latter's battle with Prussia. He also lost his primary source of income, which had come from Wiesbaden's gaming tables.

For the next 23 years, Duke Adolphe lived in Austria, where he still owned a palace, living a quiet life.  That all changed in 1889, when he was notified of the death of his kinsman, Willem III of the Netherlands. He hurried to Luxembourg to take the throne, only to learn that Willem had not died.   Adolphe returned to Vienna.  A year later,  Willem did die, and was succeeded in the Netherlands by his ten-year-old daughter, Wilhelmina.

Adolphe was proclaimed as Grand Duke of Luxembourg.  He left Vienna, once again for Luxembourg, but only after Willem III's body was buried at Delft.

Wilhelm will remain as Regent until he succeeds as grand duke.

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