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Comment 17 OCTOBER 2012

Luxembourg: All eyes on the wealthy 'anti-Monaco'

All eyes are on Luxembourg as it prepares to host the wedding which sees Europe's last unmarried heir tie the knot.

The tiny landlocked state, sandwiched between France, Germany and Belgium - where bride-to-be Stephanie was born - is the world's second richest country, behind oil-rich Qatar.

 

Luxembourg family

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But in contrast to the glitz and glamour of other small European states, such as Monaco, Luxembourg seemingly has a more down-to-earth approach to wealth.

It's largely dependent on the banking, steel and industrial sectors and is a world away from the the mega-yachts and jet-setting celebs of its Riviera counterpart.

Home to many EU institutions and with well-off residents who enjoy a healthy average salary of £31,500 a year, Luxembourg's high streets are still packed with designer boutiques, however.

 

Luxembourg



Enriched in history, art and culture, it boasts delectable cuisine, tourist attractions and more castles than you can imagine. From the finest hotels, panoramic views to Michelin-starred restaurants, Luxembourg is also an impressive luxury travel destination.

But before attaining its wealthy independent status, the Benelux country endured a chequered past.

Occupied by the Bourbons, the Habsburgs and the French, Luxembourg has also been in the hands of neighbouring Belgium and the Netherlands.

Indeed, it didn't become a sovereign state until 1867 and the half million people who reside there now live under the world's only remaining Grand Duchy - making the country's royal family unique.

 

Luxembourg



A Representative Democracy with a constitutional monarchy is headed by the groom's father, Grand Duke Henri.

As the eldest of his five siblings, Henri took the title when his father Jean abdicated in 2000 to mark the new millennium.

The move brought his wife, Maria Teresa, and his five children, Guillaume, Felix, Louis, Alexandra and Sebastian, into the spotlight.

Much of the executive power lies with the prime minister, who is appointed by the Grand Duke. But Henri remains a powerful figure.

And as a founding member of the EU, along with Belgium an the Netherlands, the nation enjoys an enviable status at the heart of Europe.

 

Luxembourg



Its geographical situation also makes Luxembourg trilingual with German, French and Luxembourgish, a High German dialect, all figuring as official languages.

Akin to its inhabitants' desire to play down their wealth, there are few Luxembourgers famous outside their country.

This green and pleasant land is home to well-known cycling brothers Andy and Frank Schleck, who compete regularly in the Tour de France. Another famous son is top 50 tennis player, Gilles Müller, who is a former junior Grand Slam winner.

It's not known if these sporting figures are invited to the wedding, but a roll call of European royals will attend this joyful event, which will put put the tiny state of Luxembourg firmly in the spotlight.

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