Currently, Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world and the Grand Duke is its head of state. He embodies the independence and continuity of a state that was strongly influenced by the ups and downs of history.
Representative democracy and constitutional monarchy
The state of Luxembourg is a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy, and the sovereign power resides in the nation. The Grand Duke exercises the sovereign power, in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country. He has only those powers that the Constitution and laws expressly confer upon him.
Since 7 October 2000, Grand Duke Henri has been the 'Head of State, the symbol of its unity and guarantor of national independence' (Article 33 of the Constitution). As such, he has a unique legal status and a set of prerogatives is attached to his function Powers are conferred upon him by dynastic succession.
The Grand Duke's prerogatives
The Constitution of the Grand Duchy grants the Grand Duke considerable prerogatives. Yet in reality, the manner in which the Grand Duke exercises his sovereignty is more pragmatic than the Constitution would seem to indicate.
The Grand Duke participates in legislative power and exercises executive power. Thus, the constitution states that the Grand Duke enacts the laws. Enactment is the act by which the Grand Duke attests to the content of the law and orders its publication and execution.
On an international level, the Grand Duke ratifies treaties and ensures that the interests of the state and the Luxembourgish citizens are protected.
The Grand Duke's regulatory power consists in taking the regulations and decrees necessary for the execution of the laws. He may delegate this power to the members of his government.
In theory, the Grand Duke decides upon the organisation of his government, choosing his ministers. However, in practice, the Grand Duke chooses, on basis of the election results a Prime Minister who presents members of the government to the Grand Duke. They are generally leading figures in the political groups represented in Parliament.
Justice is dispensed in the name of the Grand Duke by the courts and tribunals. The judgements are executed in his name (article 49). But he does not, however, have any means of interfering in the exercise of judicial power.
The Order of Succession to the Throne
The crown of the Grand Duchy is hereditary in the Nassau family in accordance with the family pact of 30 June 1783.
Before 2011, the family pact stipulated that the crown is handed down in a direct line by order of male primogeniture, to the exclusion of female descendants. In June 2011, gender equality in the line of succession was introduced by modification of the family pact.