Jean, the grand duke of Luxembourg, a decorated combat veteran of World War II whose 36-year reign coincided with a period of great prosperity for his country, died on Tuesday in Luxembourg. He was 98.
His eldest son and the current head of state, the Grand Duke Henri, confirmed his father’s death, at a hospital, where he had been admitted 10 days earlier for treatment of a lung infection.
“It is a family man who has left us today,” Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said in a statement on Tuesday. “A great statesman, a hero, a role model — and a lovely and kindhearted man.”
Jean took the throne when his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, abdicated in 1964. He, in turn, abdicated in favor of Henri in 2000.
Luxembourg saw unprecedented levels of growth during the Grand Duke Jean’s reign. From the mid-1980s to 2000 its average rate of growth of gross domestic product outpaced that of most other European countries. It is now one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of gross domestic product per capita.
During Jean’s reign the country moved from being an industrial center to a financial services hub.
“He is the one who embodied the modernization of the country,” said Michel Wurth, a member of the board of directors of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker, which has its headquarters in Luxembourg. “It was under his reign that Luxembourg became a European capital.”
And, Mr. Wurth said, “He was very close to his people.”
Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano was born on Jan. 5, 1921, at the Colmar-Berg Castle in Luxembourg, the eldest child of Charlotte and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma.
As the crown prince, he fled Luxembourg with the grand ducal family after Germany invaded the country in May 1940 and found refuge in France, Portugal, the United States and Canada before moving to Britain to join the Irish Guards, a regiment of the British Army, as a private in 1942.
He participated in the Allies’ D-Day landings in Normandy and fought in the Battle for Caen there. Three months later he took part in the liberation of Brussels.
Among other honors, he received a Silver Star from the United States, a War Medal from Britain and the French Croix de Guerre. He was promoted to colonel in the Irish Guards in 1984 and was made an honorary general of the British Army in 1995.
Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium at Luxembourg Cathedral on April 9, 1953. She died in 2005 at 77. In addition to Henri, the grand duke is survived by their four other children, Marie-Astrid, Jean, Margaretha and Guillaume; 22 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
Jean mostly kept out of the public eye after his wife’s death. In a documentary film made in 2014 and shown on RTL, a national broadcaster, Henri said his father had taken up painting.
“He is painting trees, nature, and we all received little souvenirs from him, little tableaus,” Henri said.