|Grand Duchess Charlotte, who was also |
second-cousin of my favourite Swedish
King, Gustav VI Adolf.
Of course, he one day had to peek through the keyhole, to see what she was doing alone in her chamber on Saturdays, and what he saw horrified him: she was in her bath, and instead of legs, she had a fishtail! Turns out, pretty Melusina was a mermaid. When he had realized that, the spell was broken and Melusina disappeared into the Alzette river forever. Or not exactly forever; it is said that she returns every seven years in an attempt to find a new lover who can free her from the river.
Some say the old name of Sigefroy´s castle, "Lucilinburhuc", alludes to him having had to sell his soul to the devil (Lucifer) in order to get Melusina. I doubt that the current Grand Duke counts his lineage that far back (we are talking 900´s), but it would be kind of cool to claim a mermaid as one´s foremother, wouldn´t it?
|The Grand-Ducal Palace to the right.|
During the Second World War, Charlotte led an exile government in London, and remained loyal to her people, opposing the Germans (I also imagine this would have been easier for her than for her sister as Germany was no longer a kingdom but a republic, thus there being no royal kinships to consider). Her son Jean, the next Grand Duke, took part in the Normandy landing, the battle of Caen and the liberation of Brussels, as a volunteer officer in the Irish Guards.
|This little girl decided to join the guards and march up|
and down in front of the palace gate.
It occured to me, as we were walking along the river, looking up at the city, that the Melusina legend is a wonderful allegory for that fragile balance of interdependence between a ruler/protector and his people, the knights in the castle and the folks below, living off the Alzette river. It is a small country, and I imagine a large part of the population is acquainted first hand with the royals. A tight and fond relationship, or so it seemed to me.
|View over the Red Bridge, or Grand Duchess Charlotte´s Bridge.|
|There is an interesting mix of old architecture and some very modern, good |
architecture that really looks wonderful.
|A bit of lëtzebuergesch: keep our city clean.|
|Really, there is so little water in the Alzette that it´s quite hard to believe any mermaids still reside here. I suspect Melusina has moved on.|
|We found a pub in precisely the right location to slake our thirsts.|
|A real fire, no less, and the mantlepiece says "Rest in Peace" - |
we suspect it was made from a discarded gravestone... Fitting, though!
|This is the state of the Petrusse river - barely more than a ditch.|
|This fancy building is often mistaken for the Grand-Ducal Palace, we were told. However, it is a bank.|