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Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg passes away at 98

The Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg has died at the age of 98. He was battling a lung infection and his family was with him in hospital in his last days. 

Grand Duke Jean married the Belgian princess Joséphine-Charlotte in 1953. She was the sister of the retired King Albert II of the Belgians and the late King Boudewijn. Their marriage lasted for over half a century, until Joséphine-Charlotte passed away in 2005, at the age of 77, when nursing lung cancer. 

The Battle of Caen in World War II

The Duke was born on 5 January 1921 to Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma. His early life was overshadowed by World War Two, when his family had to flee invading Nazi troops and seek refuge in the United States and Canada. 

Jean returned to Europe in 1942 to receive military training at Sandhurst in Britain. He briefly served as a guard at Buckingham Palace before joining Allied forces in Normandy in 1944, taking part in the battle of Caen, Reuters reports.

36 years at the helm of the Grand Duchy

After the war, Jean became the country's sixth Grand Duke when his mother Charlotte abdicated in 1964. During his 36 years as the head of state, his country of half a million inhabitants wedged in between Belgium, Germany and France, turned from an industrial backwater into an international financial hub.

Jean had groomed his oldest son Henri to become his successor when he transferred most of his duties to him in 1998. He stepped down as Grand Duke in 2000. Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy in which the Grand Duke holds executive power and bills only become law with his signature. 

(courtesy VRT NWS and Reuters)