Henri, Count of Paris (1908–1999)

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Prince Henri
Count of Paris
Henri d’Orléans comte de Paris.jpg
Count of Paris in 1987
Orléanist pretender to the French throne
Pretence25 August 1940 – 19 June 1999
PredecessorPrince Jean, Duke of Guise
SuccessorPrince Henri, Count of Paris
Born(1908-07-05)5 July 1908
Le Nouvion-en-Thiérache, Aisne, French Third Republic
Died19 June 1999(1999-06-19) (aged 90)
Cherisy, Eure-et-Loir, France
IssuePrincess Isabelle, Countess of Schönborn-Buchheim
Prince Henri, Count of Paris
Hélène, Countess Evrard of Limburg-Stirum
Prince François, Duke of Orléans
Princess Anne, Duchess of Calabria
Princess Diane, Duchess of Württemberg
Prince Michel, Count of Évreux
Prince Jacques, Duke of Orléans
Princess Claude, Duchess of Aosta
Princess Chantal, Baroness François Xavier de Sambucy de Sorgue
Prince Thibaut, Count of La Marche
Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie Louis Philippe
FatherPrince Jean, Duke of Guise
MotherPrincess Isabelle of Orléans
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Henri of Orléans, Count of Paris (Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie d'Orléans; 5 July 1908 – 19 June 1999), was the Orléanist claimant to the throne of France as Henry VI from 1940 until his death in 1999.

Youth and education[edit]

He was born at the Château of Le Nouvion-en-Thiérache in Aisne, France to Jean, Duke of Guise (1874–1940), and his wife, Isabelle of Orléans (1878–1961).[1] His family moved to Larache, Morocco in 1909, purchasing a plantation in the Spanish sector, Maarif, and one in the French sector, Sid Mohammed ben Lahsen, after Morocco became a French protectorate in 1912.[1] Here, Henri rose at 4 am daily, accompanying his father to oversee livestock management and crop production on their scattered lands, later in the day being tutored by European governesses and his mother: He acquired fluency in French, Arabic, English, German, Italian and Spanish.[1] He visited relatives in France often, spending the beginning of World War I in Paris while his father sought to fight on the side of the French. Being rebuffed by France, Belgium and the United Kingdom, Prince Jean finally took his family back to Morocco and farming.[1]

In 1921 Henri's governesses were replaced with a series of preceptors, all coming from France. First among these was the abbé Carcenat from Auvergne. In 1923 the abbé Thomas took over Henri's instruction and, being less traditional in his approach, awakened in his charge a hitherto undetected thirst for knowledge.[1] Using the wedding of the prince's sister that year in France as an opportunity, Thomas obtained permission to take Henri to the Parisian banlieues of Meudon and Issy-les-Moulineaux, then working class slums in which the abbé would volunteer to serve the needy daily, bringing Henri into close contact with day laborers.[1] He would later write that this wretched urban experience profoundly affected his future political outlook and sense of justice, contrasting unfavourably with the deprivation to which he was accustomed in Morocco where, he observed, the poor were at least able to enjoy fresh air, space and sunlight while surrounded by relatives and neighbors who shared a near universal poverty, compared to the depressing grime, crowded conditions and anonymity in which Parisian workers toiled amidst extremes of wealth and deprivation.[1] After a year Thomas, whose health suffered in Morocco, was replaced as Henri's preceptor by abbé Dartein, who accompanied the family to France in 1924, preparing the prince for his collegiate matriculation while they occupied an apartment near his parents in Paris.[1]

Henri began a two-year study of mathematics and the sciences at the Catholic University of Louvain in 1924, studying the law for the two years following.[1] His father, having become heir presumptive to the royal claims of the House of Orléans in 1924, betook the family to Europe again but, now banned by law from living openly in France, took up residence at the Manoir d'Anjou, a 15 hectare estate in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre near Brussels, Belgium that had been purchased in 1923 for 75,000 francs.[1] From across the border in France came scholars and veterans of renown to coach Henri for his future role as a royalist leader, including jurist Ernest Perrot, military strategist Général Henri de Gondrecourt[2] and the diplomat Charles Benoist, a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques who would serve as his advisor from 1930.[1]

Dauphin in pretence[edit]

In 1926, Henri became the Dauphin of France in pretence when his father became the Orléanist claimant to the throne upon the death of his cousin, Philippe, Duke of Orleans.[1]

In 1939, after being refused admission to both the French armed forces and the British armed forces, Henri was allowed to join the French Foreign Legion.[1]

Orléanist pretender[edit]

Front page of Courier 50 in June 1950, announcing the end of the exile of the Count of Paris

Henri became pretender to the French throne on 25 August 1940, when his father died. As the Fall of France had occurred about a month earlier, much of his early reign in pretence was marked by World War II.

In mid-November 1942, after Francois Darlan's armistice with the Allied invaders of North Africa, Vichy intelligence official Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie attempted to promote a royalist coup. (D'Astier had previously conspired with the Allies to aid the invasion.) D'Astier's colleagues, Abbé Cordier and Master-Sergeant Sabatier (a French instructor at an OSS-SOE camp in Algiers), secretly brought Henri from Morocco to d'Astier's apartment in Algiers. Both Darlan and U.S. General Eisenhower nixed the idea, however.[3] Darlan was assassinated by Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, a pro-Orléanist member of the French Resistance, on 24 December 1942.

In 1947, Henri and his family took up residence at the Quinta do Anjinho, an estate in Sintra, on the Portuguese Riviera.[4]

In 1950, after the law of exile was rescinded, Henri returned to France.

During his tenure as pretender to the throne, Henri used the majority of his family's great wealth, selling off family jewels, paintings, furniture and properties to support his political cause and large family, as well as establishments in Belgium, North Africa, Brazil, Portugal and France. The family château at Amboise now belongs to a trust he created. Conflict over the division of the family wealth (formerly worth over £40 million) led to court conflicts between him and five of his children, some of whom he unilaterally disinherited.[citation needed] (See also: Goods of the House of Orleans.)

Marriage and family life[edit]

On 8 April 1931, he married Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza. The wedding was celebrated in Palermo Cathedral in Sicily, the same church where their common ancestors, Louis Philippe of France and his Queen Maria Amalia, married in 1809.[5] Guests at the wedding included official representatives of the Brazilian, Italian, Greek, Belgian, Danish, and Spanish royal families.[6] The Count and Countess of Paris had eleven children. They separated in 1986, but never divorced.[7]

In 1984, Henri declared that his son, Henri of Orléans, had lost his rights of inheritance because he had divorced his first wife and married a second time, outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Henri gave his son the lesser-valued title comte de Mortain in place of comte de Clermont, and removed him from the line of succession. After a couple of years, Henri reinstated his son with his previous titles, including reestablishing him as heir and gave his new wife, Micaela Cousiño Quinones de Leon, the title "princesse de Joinville".[citation needed]

Henri deprived his sons Thibaut and Michel of their rights of succession to the throne, because one married a commoner and the other wed a noblewoman whose father had been compromised during the Vichy regime.[1] Later, relenting somewhat, he recognised non-dynastic titles for their wives and children. His decision was later annulled by his son and successor, Henri.[citation needed]


Henri, Count of Paris, died of prostate cancer at Cherisy, near Dreux, France, aged 90 on 19 June 1999.[citation needed] Incidentally, his grandson Prince Eudes, Duke of Angoulême married on the very same day.


Henri, Count of Paris, and his wife Isabelle had eleven children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Isabelle Marie Laure Victoire (1932-04-08) 8 April 1932 (age 89) married Friedrich Karl, Count of Schönborn-Buchheim; has issue.
Henri Philippe Pierre Marie, Count of Paris 14 June 1933 21 January 2019(2019-01-21) (aged 85) married Duchess Marie Thérèse of Württemberg; has issue.
Hélène Astrid Léopoldine Marie[8] (1934-09-17) 17 September 1934 (age 86)[8] married Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum; has issue.
François Gaston Michel Marie, Duke of Orléans 15 August 1935 11 October 1960(1960-10-11) (aged 25) died in the Algerian War
Anne Marguerite Brigitte Marie (1938-12-04) 4 December 1938 (age 82)[9] married Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria; has issue.
Diane Françoise Maria da Gloria (1940-03-24) 24 March 1940 (age 81) married Carl, Duke of Württemberg; has issue.
Michel Joseph Benoît Marie, Count of Évreux (1941-06-25) 25 June 1941 (age 80) married Béatrice Pasquier de Franclieu; has issue.
Jacques Jean Yaroslaw Marie, Duke of Orléans (1941-06-25) 25 June 1941 (age 80) married Gersende de Sabran-Pontevès; has issue.
Princess Claude Marie Agnès Catherine (1943-12-11) 11 December 1943 (age 77) married Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta; has issue.
Jeanne Chantal Alice Clothilde Marie (1946-01-09) 9 January 1946 (age 75) married Baron François Xavier de Sambucy de Sorgue; has issue.
Thibaut Louis Denis Humbert, Count of La Marche 20 January 1948 23 March 1983(1983-03-23) (aged 35) married Marion Gordon-Orr; has issue.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n de Montjouvent, Philippe. Le Comte de Paris et sa Descendance. Editions du Chaney, 1998, Charenton, France. pp. 21, 23-26, 34-36, 40-41, 187, 197, 310, 313, 467-468. (French) ISBN 2-913211-00-3.
  2. ^ www.ecole-superieure-de-guerre.fr
  3. ^ Hal Vaughan, FDR's 12 Apostles. Guilford, CT.: Lyons Press, 2006. pp 224 & 296 n 489
  4. ^ Valynseele, Joseph (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe (in French). France: Saintard de la Rochelle. pp. 179, 186–187, 198, 201, 204, 207–209, 212.
  5. ^ "ITALY: Million-Dollar Nuptials". Time. Time-Warner, Inc. 20 April 1931. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2011. Le Roi (who paid for the pageant) is that very rich man, with estates in Belgium, Italy and Morocco, who is better known as Monseigneur le Duc de Guise. As the father of the bridegroom, Le Roi fixed his thoughts last week on 1809. In that year, in this same Cathedral of Palermo, his ancestor Louis Philippe (then an exile like the Count of Paris today) married a Bourbon Princess and later became King of France (1830–48).
  6. ^ "ITALY: Million-Dollar Nuptials". Time. Time-Warner, Inc. 20 April 1931. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2011. Toasts flew merrily among a roster of guests which might have been torn from the program of an operetta: the Duke of Magenta; Prince & Princess Christopher of Greece; Prince Adam Czartoryski of Poland (at whose chateau the couple first met); the Infante Carlos (representing the King of Spain); the Danish sportsmen-princes Aage, Viggo and Erik; Count della Faille de Leverghem (representing Albert, King of the Belgians); ex-Queen Amelie of Portugal; Prince Philippe of Hesse (representing his father-in-law King Vittorio Emanuele of Italy) and Ambassador Sir Ronald William Graham, representing George V.
  7. ^ "Isabelle d'Orleans et Bragance, 91; Countess of Paris Led French Royals". Los Angeles Times. 17 July 2003. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Princess Is Christened", The New York Times, Brussels, 16 October 1934
  9. ^ "Countess Has Daughter", The New York Times, Brussels, 5 December 1938


  • Franck Hériot, Laurent Chabrun, La fortune engloutie des Orléans, Plon, 2005. ISBN 2-259-19843-0

External links[edit]

Henri, Count of Paris (1908–1999)
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 5 July 1908 Died: 19 June 1999
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Jean III
King of the French
25 August 1940 – 19 June 1999
Succeeded by
Henri VII