Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, 89, who reigned for nearly 46 years in this tiny European nation and who was a beacon of hope for her people through her broadcasts to them from England during World War II, died yesterday at Fischbach Castle about 15 miles north of this nation's capital. She had a respiratory ailment.
Grand Duchess Charlotte ascended the throne in 1919 and abdicated in 1964 in favor of her eldest son, Grand Duke Jean. She had lived at Fischbach Castle, her country home, since her abdication. Her last public meeting was with Pope John Paul II, when he called on her during his visit to Luxembourg in mid-May.
The grand duchess' intelligence, charm and dedication to her royal duties made her a symbol of a country widely admired for its prosperity, high standard of living and forward-looking social legislation. Apart from ceremonial duties, the throne plays a constitutional role, giving final approval to laws and possessing the power to dissolve parliament.
"A great lady has entered history, after preserving, leading, strengthening and inspiring our country for so long," said Prime Minister Jacques Santer. A former prime minister, Gaston Thorn, said, "She was the mother of all of us."
On May 10, 1940, the German Army invaded the tiny grand duchy. Forced to flee, the grand duchess devoted herself to boosting the morale of her subjects left behind and encouraging the Allied war effort.
Her return on April 14, 1945, was greeted with country-wide celebrations. "Madame, we love you," exclaimed Prime Minister Jean Dupong.
She also was praised for her efforts after the war in rebuilding the country, which has a population of about 366,000 and covers 1,000 square miles. It is the European Economic Community's smallest member, has one of the highest living standards in Europe, and is the home of such EEC institutions as the Court of Justice.
The grand duchess and other members of the royal family are seen frequently in public, often without the tight security of other European leaders.
Grand Duchess Charlotte was born at Berg Castle on Jan. 23, 1896, the daughter of Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg and Grand Duchess Marie-Anne of Braganza, Infanta of Portugal.
On Jan. 15, 1939, Charlotte succeeded her elder sister, Marie-Adelaide, who had been forced to abdicate because of her pro-German feelings during World War I. This had caused a split in public opinion about the monarchy.
Charlotte's popularity grew so quickly that 80 percent of the voters supported the monarchy over a republic in a referendum held only eight months after her reign began. The new ruler assumed the title Charlotte Aldegonde Elise Marie Wilhelmine, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Duchess of Nassau, Princess of Bourbon Parma.
Like most inhabitants of her country, the grand duchess spoke German and French as well as the native Luxembourgish -- a language with strong similarities to German. Her use of the local language for her radio broadcasts set a precedent for all royal announcements and boosted the importance of Luxembourgish, although French and German remain the official languages.
In November 1919, she married Prince Felix of Bourbon Parma, who died in 1970.
In addition to Grand Duke Jean, survivors include four daughters, Princess Elisabeth, Princess Marie-Adelaide, Princess Marie-Gabrielle and Princess Alix. A son, Prince Charles, died in 1977.