Grand duchy

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A grand duchy, sometimes referred to as a grand dukedom, is a territory whose head of state is a monarch, either a grand duke or grand duchess.

Today Luxembourg is the only remaining grand duchy. However, some historical grand duchies still retain the titles granted to them, usually from the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

The titles of "grand duke" and "grand duchess", when used as a translation from another language, may not necessarily be associated with a particular grand duchy.


Title and origins of grand duchies

The title of "grand duke" (Latin: Magnus Dux) ranks in honor below king, but higher in diplomatic precedence than a sovereign duke or prince, who are presumptively out of the line of succession and so always subordinate to the members of the dynastic family. The titles of grand duke or grand duchess thus indicate someone in the line of succession for the higher office (king or emperor). Hence, "grand duchy" is the name used when referring to the territory of such a sovereign grand duke or duchess.

The title has confusedly, in translation and in diplomatic ranking (such as deciding who precedes whom in a diplomatic event such as a dinner), been applied to some non-sovereigns, particularly in pre-United Nations eastern European nations. "Grand duke" is also the usual and established translation of sovereign "grand prince" in languages which do not have separate words meaning prince for:

The title of sovereign "Grand Duke" and it as translation of "grand prince" thus have clearly different meanings. In the widespread political reorganisations following World War II many monarchies ceased to exist, making the title far less prevalent and important.

Western grand dukes and their sovereignties

The only grand duchy in existence today is Luxembourg. It has been a grand duchy since 1815 when the Netherlands became an independent kingdom and Luxembourg was handed over to the King of the Netherlands, William I. Luxembourg remained in personal union with the Netherlands crown until 1890 when William III, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg, died without leaving a male heir, so that in the Netherlands he was succeeded by his daughter Wilhelmina and, in the Luxembourgish Grand Duchy, by a distant male cousin, Duke Adolf of Nassau who became HRH Grand Duke Adolphe—an arrangement necessitated by Salic law being applicable to Luxembourg but not to the Netherlands. The present Grand Duke of Luxembourg is Henri.

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