For the first time in the history of Luxembourg, the Grand Duke has opposed a decision by the country’s House of Representatives. Henry I rejected a bill that would legalize euthanasia, and government officials have announced their intention to strip the Duke of some of his powers.
Some reports in the country are calling it a “grave constitutional crisis,” with Henry I announcing that for reasons of conscience he will not approve the controversial law, which the overwhelmingly Catholic population opposes.
Socialist and Green party lawmakers pushed the measure through, and the Grand Duke normally would approve the measure within a period of three months, but this time he made a different decision.
In wake of the rejection, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced the country’s Constitution would be modified to reduce the Duke’s power.
“We are going to remove the term ‘sanction’ from article 34 of the Constitution and replace it with the term ‘promulgate,’ which means only promulgating laws so that they take effect,” Juncker stated.
Some media reports suggest the Grand Duke is repeating the crisis sparked in 1990 by his uncle, King Baldwin of Belgium, who refused to sign a law legalizing abortion that was approved by the Belgian Congress.
Henry I of Luxembourg took the oath as Grand Duke in 2000 after his father abdicated his seat. He was born on April 6, 1955, in Berzdorf. In 1981, Henry I married Maria Teresa Mestre, who is from Cuba. They have five children and two grandchildren.
When he became head of state, Juncker said he would be the “most decent Grand Duke” because of his “character and his deep knowledge of the people.”
In his first remarks as Grand Duke, Henry I encouraged citizens to conserve family values, ensure equality of rights for men and women and not be blinded by their prosperity.