Prime Minister Xavier Bettel; Credit: © SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

During the National Day official ceremony held yesterday at the Luxembourg National Solidarity Monument, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and President of the Chamber of Deputies Fernand Etgen led a small group of officials in celebrating the Grand Duke's official birthday.

On this occasion, all three speakers recognised the discipline and solidarity shown by the Luxembourg population in the face of the health crisis.

To begin, Grand Duke Henri stressed the importance of this solidarity both in the context of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The monarch praised both the efforts of the Luxembourg authorities and healthcare workers in managing the health crisis. He also recognised the role played by the public in respecting the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus. The Grand Duke also praised the action taken at the European level in response to this crisis and expressed optimism for the future of the European Union (EU).

The Grand Duke ended his speech on a personal note by expressing his joy at the recent birth of his grandson Prince Charles, the firstborn son of the Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess and future monarch.

For his part, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel reflected on the different nature of this year's celebrations, in the "unprecedented" context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussing the government's response to this crisis, the Prime Minister explained that the measures taken were deemed necessary and that, with hindsight, these to have proven to be the right decisions. He expressed gratitude to the population for their efforts to adhere to these measures and play their part in combatting the spread of the virus in Luxembourg. He also thanked healthcare staff and volunteers for their immense efforts.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel went on to recall the "open" nature of Luxembourg as a country, before expressing his confidence in the future. He stated that the crisis can (and will) be overcome by working together, both at the national and European levels.

In his speech, Chamber President Fernand Etgen, like the Grand Duke, reflected on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. He used this period as an example of solidarity, which is needed and is already evident in Luxembourg today. Mr Etgen added that both then and now certain freedoms were restricted out of solidarity. He also expressed gratitude to everyone who has played their part in fighting the spread of the virus.

Regarding the end of the state of emergency (as of today), the Chamber President recalled that the pandemic is ongoing and that, going forward, European solidarity will be much needed. He explained that crises pose challenges for all democracies, although freedom of opinion has prevailed in Luxembourg. Fernand Etgen added that before we defeat coronavirus, we must first learn to live with it; everyone has a part to play.