Josephine-Charlotte, Princess of Belgium, was born in the Palace of Brussels in 1927. She is the eldest child of King Leopold III of Belgium and Queen Astrid of Sweden. However, she will not be able to claim the throne, as the Salic Law, in force until 1991, reserves the function of monarch to male descendants. She spent her childhood in Stuyvenberg, her parents' residence. On 23 February 1934, her father ascended the throne and succeeded King Albert, who had died accidentally in Marche-les-Dames (Belgium).
At the age of seven, the young princess lost her mother, Queen Astrid, in a tragic car accident in Küsnacht, Switzerland. In 1940, she entered boarding school, and from 1942 onwards she was given private lessons. After the war, the royal family settled in Prégny, near Geneva, where Princess Joséphine-Charlotte continued her studies.
The Princess married Prince Jean, the Crown Grand Duke of Luxembourg, in 1953. She gave birth to five children, including the eldest son Henri, who became the sixth sovereign of the Nassau-Weilbourg dynasty.
In 1964, Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated in favour of her son Jean. From 1964 to 2000, Josephine-Charlotte assisted her husband in his high office and fulfilled her role as First Lady with elegance and discretion.
She took a keen interest in humanitarian and health issues and for many years chaired the Luxembourg Red Cross. Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte is patron of SOS Children's Villages Luxembourg, Unicef Luxembourg and many other organisations. She also had a passion for the arts and assembled a remarkable collection of contemporary art.
The great lady was present in the life of the Grand Duchy until her death. She died in 2005, following a serious illness.
● Service Information et Presse : Les souverains du Grand-Duché sous: http://www.gouvernement.lu/dossiers/famille_grand_ducale/souverains/index.html
● Anne Quevrin, Dominique Henrotte : L’année place royale, RTL Editions, 2005, p.62.
● Eliane Gubin, Catherine Jacques, Valérie Piette, Jean Puissant : Dictionnaire des femmes belges : XIXe et XXe siécle, Lannoo Uitgeverij, 2006, pp. 336-337.