Emile Lahoud was born on 12 January 1936 to Jamil Lahoud and Adrinei Bajakian in the Christian enclave of Baabdat. He completed his secondary education at Broummana High School and then entered the Military College as a student officer in 1956. A year later, he left for Great Britain to attend the prestigious Dartmouth Naval Academy. Upon graduating, Lahoud received his commission as an officer in the Lebanese navy.
Lahoud comes from a prominent Maronite family, with a history of public service. His father, Jamil Lahoud, helped to build Lebanon's army and later served in the National Assembly, and as minister for social and labor affairs. In 1970, he ran unsuccessfully for president.
Lahoud is described as an austere "workaholic" who shuns the spotlight. He is said to believe in maintaining high standards of professional conduct and respect for the law. As a military officer, Lahoud earned a reputation for eschewing political or sectarian partisanship.
Married to Andrie Amadounian since 1967, Lahoud has two sons and a daughter. He is fluent in Arabic, French, English, and also speaks Armenian. Lahoud is technically oriented, reads avidly, and is well informed on international issues. Athletically inclined, he enjoys swimming, diving, and fast cars.