John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg

April 30, 1963

We want to express our warm welcome to our distinguished guest who has been in the United States before. She stayed during the very difficult days of World War II for several days at the White House as a guest of President Franklin Roosevelt, and we are very glad to welcome her and her distinguished son back again.

In a sense, both of them played significant and important roles in the Second War--she as the symbol of the sovereignty of Luxembourg, and he as a member of the British Army which participated in the liberation of his own country.

So we are delighted to have Her Highness here today and also His Highness, and also the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister who themselves occupy positions of great importance.

In the 14th century, I believe Luxembourg provided four kings for the Holy Roman Empire. They are now providing a chairman for the European Economic conference in its present deliberations and also their Agricultural Minister is chairman of the Agricultural Commission which is preparing recommendations for the ministers. So I dare say that in a sense they play a more strategic role today then than they did in the days of the Holy Roman Empire.

In any case, we who live in a very changing world and we who are the beneficiaries and the victims of it--I must say that we are impressed by a country and a people who are able to maintain their sovereignty and their freedom for a thousand years, stretching back to the 10th century, who maintain their identity, maintain a spirit, maintain a tradition which is of importance today in a very critical time.

The motto of the House which Her Highness heads is Je maintiendrai, which I believe is translated "I will hold." But they have demonstrated that for a thousand years, and it is also a very good slogan for the United States.

I hope that all of you will join in drinking with me to the well-being of the people of Luxembourg, to our warm welcome to the Ministers, our friendship for the Ambassador and our very great esteem for His Royal Highness, and our very best wishes for the continued good health of Her Royal Highness, the Grand Duchess.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. In her response Grand Duchess Charlotte expressed her thanks to the people of America who, she said, "twice brought back to us across the ocean and over so many battlefields the priceless gift of liberty." She added that time would not weaken their "grateful memory of the gallant sons of your great country who endured all and gave all that justice among nations might prevail and that mankind might enjoy freedom and inherit peace."

Prince Jean also responded to the President's toast by proposing one to Mrs. Kennedy.

During his remarks the President referred to Prime Minister Pierre Werner and Foreign Minister Eugene Schaus, who accompanied the Grand Duchess to the United States, and to Luxembourg Ambassador Georges Heisbourg.

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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