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The 20 years of the accession to the throne of the Dukes of Luxembourg, from discretion to controversy

In their 20-year reign, a milestone they now reach, little has been said about the Dukes of Luxembourg. Little, until this year. Since Grand Duke Juan abdicated on October 7, 2000, and Enrique and María Teresa became the visible heads of the country, discretion and an apparent normality have been the key to the Luxembourg monarchy. If they appeared in the media it was because of their wealth: their fortune is estimated at 3,500 million euros, being the sixth richest sovereigns in the world.

Since they ascended to the throne of the country only a small scandal had splashed them. It was in 2002, when it was learned that Enrique’s mother, the Grand Duchess Emerita, Josefina Carlota, used to have not exactly good words towards her daughter-in-law, whom she addressed as “the little Cuban”, for having been born in this island, or even “la criolla”, disqualifying it for its lack of aristocratic origins. The leak came precisely from the hand of María Teresa Mestre herself, who allegedly reported personally to some local media, which quickly leaked the disagreement between the two. Something that was aggravated both inside and outside the palace by Enrique’s alleged infidelities.

But after that turbulent 2002, everything seemed calm for the Grand Dukes. Married in 1981 and with five children, their calm waters had only been agitated by the divorce of their third child, Luis, from his wife, the ex-soldier Tessy Antony. Meanwhile, they were seen at royal weddings – their own and others -, funerals and the occasional official trip. Little more. Until a name blew everything up: Waringo.

2020 started with what was presumed a good year for the ducal house. After seven years of marriage, the heir, Guillermo, and his wife, Estefanía, awaited the birth of their first child. However, in January the scandal began to appear when it was learned that the Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, had commissioned the retired former director of the General Inspectorate of Finance, Jeannot Waringo, a report on the operation of the Luxembourg monarchy, an X-ray with a multitude of sources that he made for more than six months to find out how they spent the allocation of 11 million euros per year and also how was the relationship with their staff.

Even before it was published, it was already sensed that the royal family was not going to be in a good place. A Luxembourg weekly newspaper had leaked and detailed that the Grand Duchess María Teresa was the one who came out the worst, being portrayed as authoritarian, harsh, capricious and demanding. “She makes the decisions and Enrique says yes to everything,” the publication read. Apparently, his character had caused some thirty palace workers to leave in recent years and have come to demand money in exchange for silence.

If the days before publication, the tension was high, so much so that the Grand Duke asked that his wife not be publicly lynched (“What’s the point of attacking a woman? A woman who defends other women? A woman who is not even allowed to defend herself? ”, He said), when the report was known, everything was blown up.

Throughout its 44 pages, Jeannot Waringo did not beat around the bush. “From the first days of my presence in the Palace, I have felt a certain anxiety in the employees, such as the fear of being punished or losing their job,” he explained. “I felt a certain fear of being disapproved, without the need for the workers to openly explain their feelings to me.” According to its text, between 2014 and 2019 51 workers left their post, beyond those who retired: 16 resigned, 11 were fired and eight had their contract terminated.

“There are signs that are not deceiving. I have found that in conversations between colleagues, joviality and humor are rare. Everyone is on guard and they measure their words very well, ”noted Waringo. In addition, he stated that the gossip and constant criticism undermined the morale of the almost 90 workers in the house: “A central element in the life of an organization is undoubtedly the morale and motivation of the staff, which have an immediate impact on their employees. results and well-being ”. In addition, the government adviser pointed directly and subtly to the Grand Duchess of the small Central European state, claiming that her work had been hampered by making a query about a worker from Mestre.

The consequences were quick. Prime Minister Bettel announced an intense reform and modernization of the monarchy, which was investigated for mistreatment of his staff, including physical violence in some cases. Mestre was the first and great victim, her power diminished and she was removed from decision-making, being left out of the administration of the so-called Grand Ducal House, so she can no longer manage the staff. In fact, the Grand Duchess does not even appear with her husband in the video commemorating her 20-year reign. For now, he will have to continue to focus on his hobbies (literature, skiing, singing or dancing) and his charitable work with the Red Cross or Unesco, so publicized by the country’s monarchy. As well as focusing on that new grandson, the fifth, heir to his heir, who was born in May to give them some respite in this hectic 2020.


elpais.com