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Saturday, 7 October, 2000, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Luxembourg's new Grand Duke
Three generations of Luxembourg's royal family
Grand Duke Henri greets his subjects
Former Crown Prince Henri became the new Grand Duke of Luxembourg on Saturday following the formal abdication of his father, Jean.

During the 35 year reign of Grand Duke Jean, Luxembourg turned itself from an industrial backwater into a centre for financial services and satellite communications.

"It is with regret that we gather here today for your departure," Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in a brief speech following the Hanover.

"I can say today that you have ruled without fault, without error," he said of former Grand Duke Jean.

Constitutional monarchy

Crowds lined the narrow streets around the royal palace in the centre of Luxembourg to cheer Jean and the new Grand Duke as they walked the short distance to parliament for the official swearing-in ceremony.

The political role of Luxembourg's Grand Duke is limited to appointing the person who forms a new government, although he can also formally refuse the resignation of a cabinet or dissolve parliament.

But analysts say the monarch can still wield authority behind the scenes.

Grand Duke Henri (45) is one of Europe's youngest monarchs. He is expected to stake out a new role for himself and intends to be more active than his father in state affairs, according to Letzebuerger Land weekly.

Former Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg
Grand Duke Jean abdicated after a 35 year reign

Grand Duke Jean's decision to step down at the age of seventy-nine followed a precedent set by his mother, who abdicated in 1964.

The abdication and enthronement ceremony was delayed following a car accident in September near Paris in which Prince Guillaume, the youngest son in the royal family, was seriously injured.

With 437,000 inhabitants, Luxembourg is not only the smallest state in the European Union, but also the wealthiest in terms of per capita gross domestic product.

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