While studying in Geneva, Henri met the former María Teresa Mestre y Batista, who was also a political science student. They married in Luxembourg on 4 February/14 February 1981 with the previous consent of the Grand Duke, dated 7 November 1980.
Prince Henri became heir apparent to the Luxembourg throne on the abdication of his paternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, on 12 November 1964. From 1980 to 1998, he was a member of the Council of State.
On 4 March 1998, Prince Henri was appointed as Lieutenant Representative by his father, Grand Duke Jean, meaning that he assumed most of his father's constitutional powers. On 7 October 2000, immediately following the abdication of his father, Henri acceded as Grand Duke of Luxembourg and took the constitutional oath before the Chamber of Deputies later that day.
With the exception of Grand Duke of Luxembourg, all the titles refer to places in modern Germany, particularly in the House of Nassau's ancestral region of Nassau.
However, on ascending the throne, Grand Duke Henri relinquished the styling "by the Grace of God", and in the laws, decrees, and official documents his name and title is: "Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau".
Euthanasia controversy and constitutional reform
On 2 December 2008 it was announced that Grand Duke Henri had stated he would refuse to ratify a new law on euthanasia that had been approved earlier in the year by the Chamber of Deputies. The signature of the Grand Duke was required under the Constitution in order for the law to take effect. In the absence of clarity on the long-term implications for the constitutional position of the Grand Duke posed by such a refusal, it was announced by the Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, that a constitutional amendment would be brought forward whereby the signature of the monarch would no longer be necessary for laws to be enacted. This would remove one of the legislative roles of the Grand Duke, namely the approving of new legislation. The Luxembourg royal house had tried to block a decision by parliament only once before, when Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide refused to sign an education bill in 1912. The ultimate solution was that the Grand Duke would be declared unable to perform his duty temporarily; this was similar to the 'escape route' provided to his uncle King Baudouin of Belgium when he refused to sign an abortion law in 1991, and thus the law could take effect without the signature of the Grand Duke, but also without the need to enact far-reaching changes in the constitution. A constitutional amendment, which changed the formulation of the role of the Grand Duke or Duchess in such a way as to make it clear that his signature is automatic and that he/she has no freedom of decision was nevertheless eventually passed. The head of state no longer has to sanction laws for them to take effect; he merely promulgates them.
As the head of a constitutional monarchy, Grand Duke Henri's duties are primarily representative. However, he retains the constitutional power to appoint the Prime Minister and Government, to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, to promulgate laws and to accredit ambassadors.
Grand Duke Henri is Commander-in-Chief of the Luxembourg Army, in which he holds the rank of General. He is also an Honorary Major in the British RAF Regiment.
One of the Grand Duke's main functions is to represent Luxembourg in the field of foreign affairs. In May 2001, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa undertook their first foreign state visit to Spain, at the invitation of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
Since the accession of Henri to the Grand Ducal Throne in 2000, the Court's approach to media and publicity has varied markedly. In 2002, Grand Duke Henri expressly identified himself with a press conference called by Grand Duchess Maria Teresa with a view to discussing with journalists the shortcomings of her personal relations with her mother-in-law, Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.
In contrast, when the grand ducal couple's first grandchild was born in 2006, the Court Circular pointedly omitted to mention the event, probably as the father Prince Louis was not married at the time. However, the pregnancy was announced in 2005, so the country was informed that the prince and his girlfriend were going to be parents. The press also had access to the child's baptism.
The Grand Ducal Family's approach to media and publicity issues has itself given rise to media comment regarding the quality of communications advice which has been sought and followed. As well as the public airing of the difficulties between the Grand Duchess and her mother-in-law, several other events have resulted in adverse publicity, most notably: in 2004, the opening of Parliament by the Grand Duke in person, the first time in over 100 years the Monarch had done so; in 2005, the Grand Duke announced he intended to vote in favour of the European Constitution in the impending referendum, only to be reminded by senior politicians that he had no such right; the proposed sale of large tracts of the Gruenewald in the summer of 2006 shortly followed by the proposed sale (cancelled shortly afterwards) at Sotheby's of recently deceased Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's effects.
On 3 February 2011, Henri was admitted to the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg on falling ill. Shortly after, the Grand Ducal Court issued a statement saying that he was to undergo an angioplasty. The day after, the Communications Chief announced that the surgery had been a success. "The state of His Royal Highness' health is not disturbing," the statement read, before stating the Grand Duke may leave the hospital within the next few days. Although the reason has not formally been disclosed, it is reported that the Grand Duke felt ill after waking that day, and the Court Physician noticed circulation problems. It was then that he was rushed to hospital, to the cardiac unit, and was discharged the following day.
16 April 1955 – 12 November 1964:His Royal Highness Prince Henri of Luxembourg, Prince of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma
12 November 1964 – 7 October 2000:His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
7 October 2000 – present:His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Luxembourg
The Grand Duke's style and title in full: His Royal Highness Henri by the Grace of God, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Count of Sayn, Königstein, Katzenelnbogen and Diez, Burgrave of Hammerstein, Lord of Mahlberg, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Merenberg, Limburg and Eppstein
Henri's patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son.
Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations - which means that if Grand Duke Henri were to choose an historically accurate house name it would be Robert, as all his male-line ancestors have been of that house.
Henri's patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son. It follows the Dukes of Parma as well as the Kings of Spain, France, and Navarre. The line can be traced back more than 1,200 years from Robert of Hesbaye to the present day, through Kings of France & Navarre, Spain and Two-Sicilies, Dukes of Parma and Grand-Dukes of Luxembourg, Princes of Orléans and Emperors of Brazil. It is one of the oldest in Europe.
^Slovak republic website, State honours (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table) : 1st Class received by Grand-Duke in 2002, i.e. during the state visit (French) of President Rudolf Schuster in Luxembourg (november 2002).