Henri, Count of Paris (1908–1999)
|Count of Paris|
|Orléanist pretender to the French throne|
|Pretence||25 August 1940 – 19 June 1999|
|Predecessor||Prince Jean, Duke of Guise|
|Successor||Prince Henri, Count of Paris|
|Born||5 July 1908|
Le Nouvion-en-Thiérache, Aisne, France
|Died||19 June 1999 (aged 90)|
Cherisy, Eure-et-Loir, France
|Issue||Princess Isabelle, Countess of Schönborn-Buchheim|
Prince Henri, Count of Paris
Hélène, Countess Evrard of Limburg-Stirum
Prince François, Duke of Orléans
Princess Anne, Dowager Duchess of Calabria
Diane, Dowager Duchess of Württemberg
Prince Michel, Count of Évreux
Prince Jacques, Duke of Orléans
Princess Claude, Duchess of Aosta
Chantal, Baroness François Xavier of Sambucy de Sorgue
Prince Thibaut, Count of La Marche
|Father||Prince Jean, Duke of Guise|
|Mother||Princess Isabelle of Orléans|
|Service/||French Foreign Legion|
Henri of Orléans, Count of Paris (Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie d'Orléans; 5 July 1908 – 19 June 1999), was the Orléanist claimant to the defunct throne of France as Henry VI from 1940 until his death in 1999. Henri was the direct descendant of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, son of Louis XIII. He was also a descendant of Louis XIV through a female line, from his legitimized daughter Françoise Marie de Bourbon; as well as the great-great-grandson (by four different lines of descent) of Louis Philippe I.
The son of Jean, Duke of Guise, Henri was forbidden to enter France for much of his life. Nonetheless, he remained devoted to serving France, having enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and fighting in World War II and the Algerian War. After being permitted to re-enter France in 1950, he soon became heavily engaged in French monarchist politics. Henri worked to restore the French monarchy, in a parliamentary form, and discussed the topic with Charles de Gaulle. He received notable support from French monarchists, but all attempts to restore the monarchy ultimately failed. Upon his death in 1999, his son Henri succeeded him as Head of the House of Orléans.
Youth and education
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). 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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 and the diplomat Charles Benoist, a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques who would serve as his advisor from 1930.
Dauphin in pretence
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. As a member of the Legion, he participated in the Second World War and the Algerian War for Independence.
World War II
Henri became pretender to the defunct 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 François 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 proposed to his friend Ridgeway Knight about the possibility of this coup, asking what "would you Americans think if the Comte de Paris appeared on the scene?" He proposed that Henri would appear to head a French government composed of all political tendencies, and maintain "neutrality until the day comes when the French nation can freely decide for itself." Ridgeway was taken aback by the proposal, but was unaware that 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. The plan was supposedly backed by the presidents of three Algerian conseils generaux, who had signed a joint letter urging the admiral to resign in favour of this plan. Both Darlan and U.S. General Eisenhower nixed the idea, however, with Darlan ignoring the letters and Eisenhower having given a firm "no" after hearing about the plan. Darlan was assassinated by Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, a pro-Orléanist member of the French Resistance, on 24 December 1942.
In 1950, after the law of exile was rescinded, Henri returned to France. During his tenure as pretender to the defunct 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. (See also: Goods of the House of Orleans.)
Unlike his father, Henri devoted his life to politics. During World War II, Henri was initially sympathetic to Vichy France. His opinions on the government changed over time, and he contacted Prime Minister Pierre Laval. Laval offered Henri the unglamorous position of Minister of Food, which he declined.
In Algeria, Henri attempted to convince the French military governor not to oppose an Anglo-American military landing. Henri had correctly predicted such a thing occurring, but at the time he was laughed at by the officers. He later flew to Rome, to consult with the pope, and to Vichy, to talk with Philippe Pétain. He attempted to convince Pétain to transfer the Vichy government to North Africa. Henri also tried to mediate between Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud, when the two men were competing for control of Free France.
Between 1940 and 1941, the Gaullist camp offered Henri an invitation to go to London, which he declined. Henri feared that if he accepted the offer, he would have become an émigré, like the Bourbons who returned to France after Napoleon's defeat. Henri was staunchly opposed to the idea of siding with one political party, wishing instead to pursue a path of unity and not contribute to France's "infernal divisiveness." Charles de Gaulle later confided to his biographer, Phillipe Saint-Robert, that "Had the count of Paris joined me in London in 1940, he would have become France. Together, we could have done great things."
In 1948, Henri began publishing a monthly bulletin, which soon possessed 30,000 subscribers.
In 1950, the French Parliament abrogated the Law of Exile, permitting Henri to return. He then returned to his home country, with his wife and children, and proclaimed his loyalty to democracy. He created a foundation which restored the Orleans castle at Amboise, and then opened it to the French public. While some Legitimists contested his succession, due to his controversial ancestor Philippe Égalité, the vast majority of the tens of thousands of French monarchists nonetheless threw their support behind him. Still, some held their grievances with the Orléans family. Author Charles Fenyvesi said that he was once told by an aristocratic lady that "I detest the Orléans." She continued,
"They are upstarts, typical second sons, a younger branch that tries to make up for what it missed at birth. Unfortunately, we have no real Bourbons left any more...So we have to make do with Henri, who strikes a royal enough pose, I guess. But the descendant of Philippe Égalité and Louis-Phillipe that he is, he has never stopped courting the socialists.
In 1954, Henri met Charles de Gaulle and continued their relationship through correspondence. In 1958, Henri gave his support to de Gaulle, who was called back from his self-imposed exile to save the French Republic from insurrection in Paris. Thereafter, Henri became a frequent visitor to the Élysée Palace, where de Gaulle waited for Henri "by the staircase or outside, reserved a special armchair for him and lit his cigarette." There, they frequently discussed French history together, with Henri noting that de Gaulle loved to pronounce the word 'king'.
In 1960, de Gaulle told Henri that "Monseigneur, I believe deeply in the value of the monarchy, and I am certain as well that this regime is the one best suited to our poor country." The following year, de Gaulle dispatched Henri on a tour to Libya, Ethiopia, Iran, and Lebanon, with the purpose of explaining France's Algeria policy, serving as de Gaulle's special representative, or "pro-consul." During this time, Henri befriended Hassan II of Morocco and Habib Bourguiba. In 1962, de Gaulle informed Henri in strict confidence that he had arranged the French presidential election so that the head of the royal house could succeed him as president of the Republic. Georges Pompidou confirmed this, telling a close friend that "I know the general has made up his mind in favor of the count of Paris." However, by 1964, de Gaulle changed his mind and told Henri of his decision to run for re-election, which he won. By 1968, Henri ceased publication of his paper over his increasing disagreements with the Gaullists. The Countess of Paris remarked that "Under de Gaulle, Henri came two fingers close to becoming king. But by 1968, it was all over, finished."
Following de Gaulle's death in 1970, his son Philippe de Gaulle told Henri, "Monseigneur, my father often told me that if circumstances had been different, he would have been happy to be your faithful and loyal servant." In 1979, Henri published his book Mémoires d'exil et de combats, which revealed to the public that de Gaulle had asked Henri to prepare himself for the 1965 presidential elections in France. In a latter interview, Henri stated "At all times de Gaulle desired restoration, I am convinced of it. He thought monarchy was the form of government most adequate for the French people under the present conjunction." However, Henri also noted that "It was difficult to get anywhere without de Gaulle, He agreed to favor my ascension to the highest point, but he didn't understand that it was necessary to give me the means of getting there."
Henri stated that he believes de Gaulle never forgave him for refusing to join the Free French in London, and also noted that "De Gaulle was not my friend...De Gaulle and I shared some common ideals and I agreed with him on the essentials of his approach to politics...I believe he was sincere when he wished that France may return to a monarchy. But once he was in power for a few years, he changed his ideas."
In his college years, Henri spent many nights listening to the French monarchist writer Charles Maurras. But during his adult life, Henri considered himself a centrist and never allied with any political party. On Action Française, Henri stated that it had many talented leaders, but he ultimately regarded it as "a Rightist party with extreme Right sympathies." In Henri's view, "no one should be in a position to claim a monopoly on the monarchist idea."
Henri befriended politicians on both the left and right, and declined to run for Parliament, despite de Gaulle's suggestion that he should do so. His political strategy was to court the political Left and ignore the Right, knowing that the Right possessed no choice but to back him. Some rightist critics of Henri regarded him as "the Crown Prince of the Republic" or "a dyed-in-the-wool socialist, if not a Jacobin." The Countess of Paris described her husband as "an authoritarian and an absolutist."
Henri was a critic of primogeniture and favored elective monarchy over hereditary. He believed that France should possess a council of state, which would be entrusted with the duty of finding the most worthy successor within the royal family.
Marriage and family life
This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2017)
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. Guests at the wedding included official representatives of the Brazilian, Italian, Greek, Belgian, Danish, and Spanish royal families. The Count and Countess of Paris had eleven children. They separated in 1986, but never divorced.
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-apparent and gave his new wife, Micaela Cousiño Quinones de Leon, the title "princesse de Joinville".
Henri deprived his sons Thibaut and Michel of their rights of succession to the defunct throne, because one married a commoner and the other wed a noblewoman whose father had been compromised during the Vichy regime. Later, relenting somewhat, he recognised non-dynastic titles for their wives and children. His decision was later annulled by his son and successor, Henri.
Henri, Count of Paris, died of prostate cancer at Cherisy, near Dreux, France, aged 90 on 19 June 1999. His death was mourned by republican leaders on both the political left and right, having been well liked in France due to his political finesse. He was survived by his wife, 9 children, and 41 grandchildren.
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:
|Princess Isabelle||8 April 1932||married Friedrich Karl, Count of Schönborn-Buchheim; has issue.|
|Prince Henri, Count of Paris||14 June 1933||21 January 2019(aged 85)||married 1st Duchess Marie Thérèse of Württemberg; had issue,|
married 2nd Micaela Cousiño Quiñones de León; no issue.
|Princess Hélène||17 September 1934||married (1957 in Dreux) Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum; has issue.|
|Prince François, Duke of Orléans||15 August 1935||11 October 1960(aged 25)||died in the Algerian War|
|Princess Anne||4 December 1938||married Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria; has issue.|
|Princess Diane||24 March 1940||married Carl, Duke of Württemberg; has issue.|
|Prince Michel, Count of Évreux||25 June 1941||married Béatrice Pasquier de Franclieu; has issue.|
|Prince Jacques, Duke of Orléans||25 June 1941||married Gersende de Sabran-Pontevès; has issue.|
|Princess Claude||11 December 1943||married Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta; has issue.|
|Princess Chantal||9 January 1946||married Baron François Xavier of Sambucy de Sorgue; has issue.|
|Prince Thibaut, Count of La Marche||20 January 1948||23 March 1983(aged 35)||married Marion Gordon-Orr; has issue.|
|Ancestors of Henri, Count of Paris (1908–1999)|
- Moncreiffe, Iain; Pottinger, Don (1956). Blood Royal. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson. pp. 3, 17. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
- Philippe de Montjouvent. 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.
- Budanovic, Nikola (29 April 2016). "10 Noblemen Who Fought in the French Foreign Legion". WarHistoryOnline.
- Hal Vaughan, FDR's 12 Apostles. Guilford, CT.: Lyons Press, 2006. pp 224
- Hal Vaughan, pp 296 n 489
- 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.
- Fenyvesi, Charles (1979). Splendor in Exile: The Ex-Majesties of Europe. New Republic Books. p. 125.
- Fenyvesi, p. 125
- Fenyvesi, p. 126
- Fenyvesi, p. 126
- Whitney, Craig R. (21 June 1999). "Henri VI, 90, the Orleans Heir Apparent to the Throne of France". New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017.
- Fenyvesi, p. 123
- Fenyvesi, p. 127
- Fenyvesi, p. 128
- Fenyvesi, pp. 128-129
- Fenyvesi, p. 129
- Fenyvesi, p. 123
- Fenyvesi, p. 132
- Fenyvesi, pp. 132-133
- Fenyvesi, p. 133
- "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).
- "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.
- "Isabelle d'Orleans et Bragance, 91; Countess of Paris Led French Royals". Los Angeles Times. 17 July 2003. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
- "Princess Is Christened", The New York Times, Brussels, 16 October 1934
- "Royal Wedding in France". British Pathe News. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
- "Countess Has Daughter", The New York Times, Brussels, 5 December 1938
- Broche, François (2001). Le comte de Paris: l'ultime prétendant (in French). Paris: Perrin. ISBN 2262017417.
- Curley, Jr., Walter J. P. (1973). Monarchs-in-Waiting. New York: Dood, Mead. ISBN 0396068405.
- Delorme, Philippe (2006). L'homme qui rêvait d'être roi (in French). Paris: Buchet-Chastel. ISBN 2283021413.
- Dussault, Louis (1988). Le comte de Paris au Québec (in French). Montréal, Québec: Guérin littérature.
- Fenyvesi, Charles (1979). Splendor in Exile: The Ex-Majesties of Europe. Washington, D.C.: New Republic. ISBN 0915220555.
- Goyet, Bruno (2001). Henri d'Orléans, comte de Paris (1908-1999): le prince impossible (in French). Paris: Jacob. ISBN 2738109349.
- Hériot, Franck; Chabrun, Laurent (2005). La fortune engloutie des Orléans (in French). Paris. ISBN 2259198430.
- Laot, Françoise (1992). La comtesse de Paris (in French). Paris: Plon. ISBN 2259024890.
- Louis, Patrick (1994). Histoire des royalistes: de la Libération à nos jours (in French). Paris: Grancher.
- Meylan, Vincent (2007). Contre-enquête sur le comte et la comtesse de Paris (in French). Paris: Pygmalion. ISBN 9782857048978.
- Montjouvent, Philippe de (1998). Le comte de Paris et sa descendance (in French). Charenton, France: Chaney. ISBN 2913211003.
- Orléans, Jacques d' (1994). Les ténébreuses affaires du Comte de Paris (in French). Paris: Albin Michel. ISBN 222611081X.
- Schott, Cyrille (2012). La rose et le lys : François Mitterrand et le comte de Paris, 1986-1996 : récit (in French). Paris: Plon. ISBN 9782259215299.
- Vimieux, Philippe (1975). Le Comte de Paris: ou, La Passion du présent (in French). Paris: Centre d'études de l'Agora.
- Walter, Xavier (2002). Un roi pour la France: Henri comte de Paris, 1908-1999, essai de biographie intellectuelle et politique pour servir à la réflexion d'un prince du XXIe siècle (in French). Paris: Guibert. ISBN 2868397778.
- Film from Henri d'Orléanses wedding in 1931
- Une manifeste de Comte de Paris. Henri's manifest in Le Figaro in 1937, where he renounce Action Française (French)
- Interview with the Count on France Inter 23 April 1979 (French)
- Biography in The Guardian (1999)
- Biography in Independent (1999)
- Newspaper clippings about Henri, Count of Paris in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW