Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Bonaparte Dynasty: Napoleon VI

On visiting Longwood House I was curious as to the identity of the distinguished looking couple in this picture. I was told it was Prince Napoleon, photographed with his wife on the occasion of their visit to St Helena. I didn't like to reveal my ignorance and so asked no further questions.

I gave it little further thought, but a recent post on "My Napoleon Obsession" about Marie Bonaparte (1882-1962) made me dig further.

Prince Napoleon turned out to be Louis Jérôme Victor Emmanuel Léopold Marie Bonaparte(1914–1997), a descendant of Napoleon's youngest brother, Jérôme Bonaparte (1784–1860). He was born in Belgium, as members of the French Royal families were banned from France from 1886. His mother was Princess Clémentine of Belgium, the daughter of Leopold II of Belgium (a cousin of Queen Victoria no less) and Marie Henriette of Austria.

As a small child he had spent some time in England where he stayed with the Empress Eugénie, the widow of Napoleon III. The UK seems to have a soft spot for Kings and Emperors, and they all seem related to Queen Victoria! As a young adult he joined the Foreign Legion, fought with the French resistance, and was officially allowed back into France by General De Gaulle in 1950.

His claim to the Imperial crown was derived in 1926 from his father, Napoléon Victor Jérôme Frédéric Bonaparte (1862–1926). The latter became Napoleon V on the death of Napoleon IV, who had died fighting for the British army against the Zulus in South Africa! His grandfather was Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822-1891) who was Napoleon's nephew.

Who then is the current Prince Napoleon?

This is not an easy question, and I am not sure what authority a mere Englishman should turn to for an answer. Suffice it to say that it is either Napoleon VII , Charles Marie Jérôme Victor Napoléon Bonaparte (1950-), who was somewhat controversially disinherited in Napoleon VI's will, or his son, Napoleon VIII, (Jean-Christophe Napoléon (1986-).


Anonymous said...

Hahaha why does it seem like Queen Victoria has a hand in everything:)

Carmi Cimicata said...

Excellent information...there are princes everywhere!

John Tyrrell said...

The Bonaparte links seem to predate Victoria: Catharina of Wurttemberg (Jerome's second wife), from whom the Bonaparte dynasty descends, was herself a descendant of George II of England, and a niece of Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George IV; so the Bonaparte dynasty is indeed part of a rather extended UK Royal Family! Funny old world indeed.