The grand ducal court of Luxembourg yesterday announced that Grand Duke Henri on 16 September last year changed the rules of succession laid down in the Family Pact of 1783 so that gender neutral succession will apply to his descendants. The press release does not say explicitly whether this change is retroactive, but if so the Grand Duke’s only daughter, Princess Alexandra, overtakes her younger brother in the succession. Apparently the old rules will continue to apply to those in line of succession who do not descend from Grand Duke Henri.
However, according to the newspaper Wort (external link) the Luxembourgian parliament is due to pass a reform whereby succession to the throne will hereafter be a strictly constitutional issue and no longer regulated by the Family Pact, thus in reality rendering Grand Duke Henri’s reform superfluous.
With these changes introduced in Luxembourg, gender neutral succession now applies in Sweden (1980), the Netherlands (1983), Norway (1990), Belgium (1991), Denmark (2009) and Luxembourg (2011). In Britain, Spain and Monaco sons still come before daughters, whereas Liechtenstein is alone in excluding women altogether from the succession.
That rule once also applied in Luxembourg and was the reason why the union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg was dissolved in 1890, when King/Grand Duke Willem III died and was succeeded on the Dutch throne by his daughter Wilhelmina and on the Luxembourgian throne by his distant cousin Adolph, former Duke of Nassau. However, Grand Duke Adolphe’s son, Guillaume IV, fathered six daughters but no sons, which caused the rules of succession to be changed in 1907 so that women would be allowed to succeed if there were no male members of the dynasty. This means that until now Princess Alexandra would only become have been able to inherit the throne if there were no male male-line descendants (of approved marriages) of any of the six daughters of Guillaume IV, whereas the new rules (given that they are in fact retroactive) make her third in line of succession following her elder brothers Guillaume and Félix.
29 June 2011: Clarification regarding Luxembourgian succession: Changes not retroactive
11 July 2011: Update on the Luxembourgian succession: Princess Alexandra IS in line to the throne