Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1869–1926)

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Duke of Orléans
Orléanist pretender to the French throne
Pretence8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
PredecessorPhilippe, Count of Paris
SuccessorJean, Duke of Guise
Duke of Orléans
Tenure8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
PredecessorPhilippe, Count of Paris
Duke of Montpensier
Tenure8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
PredecessorPhilippe, Count of Paris
SuccessorJean III
Born(1869-02-06)6 February 1869
Died28 March 1926(1926-03-28) (aged 57)
SpouseArchduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria
FatherPhilippe, Count of Paris
MotherPrincess Isabelle of Orléans
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignaturePhilippe's signature

Philippe, Duke of Orléans (Prince Louis Philippe Robert d'Orléans; 6 February 1869 – 28 March 1926) was the Orléanist claimant to the throne of France from 1894 to 1926.

Early life[edit]

Philippe was born at York House, Twickenham, Middlesex, the son of Philippe, Count of Paris, by his wife (and first cousin), Princess Isabelle of Orléans.[1] He was baptised with the names Louis-Philippe-Robert, and was called Philippe. His family lived in England from the abdication and banishment of his great-grandfather Louis Philippe, King of the French, in 1848, and returned to France in 1871 following the fall of the Second French Empire. However, they again took refuge in England in 1886, when the French Republic exiled them following the wedding in Paris of Philippe's sister Amélie of Orléans to Crown Prince Carlos of Portugal.

Returning therefore to France in 1871 with his parents, Philippe was educated at home at the Château d'Eu and at the Collège Stanislas de Paris.[1] His tutor from the end of 1882 to 1887 was Théodore Froment, previously a professor of Latin literature at Bordeaux.[1] In 1880 Philippe's father granted him the title Duc d'Orléans. On 16 June 1881, he received the sacrament of confirmation at Eu.[2] Growing up to be tall and blond, he later grew a beard. He was a better athlete than scholar and learned to love mountain-climbing from Captain Morhain, a former soldier from Saint-Cyr who had become his father's accountant.[1]

Military career[edit]

Philippe began his military education at the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr. In June 1886 he was on the point of becoming an officer in the French army when his family was once again exiled by France's republican government. At first he was placed under the tutelage of a Colonel de Parseval, under whose supervision he would later attend a military academy in Lausanne.[1] In Great Britain he entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, on the nomination of Queen Victoria in February 1887, completing his training there and developing an abiding interest in geography, topography, and the natural sciences.[1]

He was attached for service to the King's Royal Rifle Corps, which was then serving in British India, but never held an actual commission in the British Army, in order to respect a French law forbidding Frenchmen from holding commissions in foreign armies without the permission of the French head of state. Nevertheless, he was ranked as a sub-lieutenant and served in India from January 1888 to March 1889, where he was a staff-officer to Lord Roberts, then Commander-in-Chief in India.

Philippe d'Orléans

In October 1889, Philippe went to Switzerland to complete a course in military theory.[1] While there he fathered a son, Philippe Debien, by Nina, an actress working in the casino at Lausanne.[3] On his 21st birthday in February 1890 he left Switzerland by train with his friend Honoré d'Albert, 10th duc de Luynes, and entered Paris in violation of the law of exile of 1886.[1] There, he offered to perform his military service, as required by law. Instead he was arrested and confined in the Conciergerie. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment at Clairvaux, but was released after a few months and expelled back to Switzerland.

Drawn to explore the "unknown", Philippe asked Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, to send him to a military post in the Himalayas. While in the East, he undertook a hunting and exploratory expedition in Nepal with his cousin Prince Henri of Orléans, went mountain-climbing in Tibet, and visited Afghanistan, Ceylon, and the Persian Gulf, before being posted back to Britain.[1]

Prior to his imprisonment in France, Philippe had been unofficially engaged to his first cousin Princess Marguerite of Orléans,[4] but the engagement was cancelled when Philippe's involvement with the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba was revealed. Melba was still married to Charles Nesbitt Armstrong, although they had lived apart for some years. Armstrong filed for divorce from Melba on the grounds of adultery, naming Philippe as co-respondent; the case was eventually dropped.[5]

In September 1890, Philippe accompanied his father on a two-month trip to the United States and Canada.[6] They visited the battlefields of the American Civil War, in which his father had fought, as well as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, New York City, and Quebec.

On 12 November 1890, while in Philadelphia, Philippe joined the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) - a military society composed of officers who had served the Union in the American Civil War and their descendants, as a companion of the 2nd class - a membership category for the eldest sons of companions of the 1st class who were veteran officers. He was assigned MOLLUS insignia number 8262. Upon his father's death on 8 September 1894, he became a hereditary companion of the 1st class.

In December 1890, Philippe applied unsuccessfully to serve in the Russian Army.[7] In March 1893, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.[8]

In March 1894, Philippe went to Egypt and Palestine with his sister Hélène, Duchess of Aosta. Then he went lion shooting in Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia). In May 1894, he was attached to the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars, a yeomanry regiment.[9]

Claimant to the throne[edit]

Upon the death of his father on 8 September 1894, Philippe became the Orléanist claimant to the French throne.[1] He was known to monarchists as Philippe VIII.[1] He was an active claimant, regularly issuing manifestos. In October 1895, Philippe was named as co-respondent in the divorce case of Woolston v. Woolston.[10]

Unlike his great grandfather, Louis Philippe I, Philippe claimed grand mastership of the Order of the Holy Spirit as intrinsic to his dynastic claim to the throne, and sometimes wore the breast star of the order.

On 5 November 1896, in Vienna, Philippe married Archduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria (1867–1932), a daughter of Archduke Joseph Karl of Austria, Palatine of Hungary, and granddaughter of Princess Clémentine of Orléans, as well as a niece of Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen Consort of the Belgians. There were no children from this marriage. The couple were poorly matched and after several years they lived apart.[1]

While travelling in Geneva in 1898, Philippe narrowly missed being assassinated by an anarchist,[1] who vowed to kill the next member of a royal family that he saw. The victim would turn out to be the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, stabbed to death on the quayside.

Philippe continued to reside in England until 1900, when he moved his primary residence to Belgium. He was an active yachtsman and explored parts of the western coast of Greenland in 1905 during his Duke of Orléans Arctic Expedition. In 1907 he sailed in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, and in 1909 went even further north into the Arctic Ocean. He made a short film, Jaripeo y fiestas en Jalapa ("Jaripeo and Festivals in Jalapa"), during a trip to Mexico in 1910.[11]

In 1914, Philippe and his wife Maria Dorothea were legally separated. She subsequently lived in Hungary.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Philippe again tried unsuccessfully to join the French army. He was also refused permission to serve in the Belgian army and instead returned to the United Kingdom. A plan to join the Italian army was prevented by a serious accident in which he was knocked down by a bus.

In 1926, Philippe died of pneumonia at the Palais d'Orléans in Palermo, Sicily. Having no legitimate issue, he was succeeded as pretender to the throne of France by his cousin Jean, Duke of Guise.


Philippe wrote a number of works based on his many travels:

  • Une expédition de chasse au Népaul ("A hunting trip to Nepal"), Paris: C. Lévy, 1892.
  • Une croisière au Spitzberg, yacht Maroussia, 1904, Paris: Imprimerie de Chaix, 1904
  • Croisière océanographique: accomplie à bord de la Belgica dans la Mer du Grönland, 1905, Brussels: C. Bulens, 1907
  • La revanche de la banquise: un été de dérive dans la mer de Kara, juin-septembre 1907, Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1909
  • Campagne Arctique de 1907, Brussels: C. Bulens, 1910–1912
  • Hunters and Hunting in the Arctic, London: David Nutt, 1911 (published in French as Chasses et chasseurs arctiques, Paris: Librairie Plon, 1929)

He also published a collection of the papers of his father and of the Henri, comte de Chambord:

  • La monarchie française: lettres et documents politiques (1844–1907), Paris: Librairie nationale, 1907




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Paoli, Dominique (2006). Fortunes & Infortunes des Princes d"Orléans. France: Laballery. pp. 287–297. ISBN 2-35154-004-2.
  2. ^ The Times (17 June 1881): 5.
  3. ^ Edward Hanson, Royalty Digest 4, 2012.
  4. ^ The Times ( 28 May 1889): 5, ( 31 May 1889): 5.
  5. ^ The Times ( 5 November 1891): 5, ( 6 November 1891): 9, ( 20 February 1892): 5, ( 17 February 1892): 13, ( 12 March 1892): 16, ( 14 March 1892): 3, ( 24 March 1892): 3.
  6. ^ Voyage de Mgr le comte de Paris et de Mgr le duc d'Orléans aux Etats-Unis et au Canada (Paris: Librairie nationale, 1891).
  7. ^ The Times (2 January 1891): 7, (10 January 1891): 5.
  8. ^ The Times (29 March 1893): 9.
  9. ^ The Times (1 June 1894): 10.
  10. ^ The Times ( 29 October 1895): 4, ( 5 November 1895): 14.
  11. ^ "Mexican Cinema Could Have Started in Orizaba, There is an Important Amount of Filmography" Al Calor Político (16 February 2016); accessed 1 October 2018 (in Spanish)
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ Boettger, T. F. "Chevaliers de la Toisón d'Or - Knights of the Golden Fleece". La Confrérie Amicale. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Marquis de Flers, The Count of Paris, quoted in Moi Amélie, Last Queen of Portugal by Stéphane Bern, pp. 112-113
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^ "Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla". Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish). 1925. p. 241. Retrieved 29 August 2020.


  • Lafon, Marie-Françoise. Philippe, duc d'Orléans, 1869–1926: explorateur, navigateur, naturaliste. Paris: Société nouvelle des Editions Boubée, 1999.
  • Colleville, Ludovic, comte de. Le duc d'Orléans intime: la jeunesse du duc d'Orléans, à l'armée des Indes, le duc en France, son arrestation, le mariage du duc d'Orléans, croisières, le mouvement néo-royaliste. Paris: Librairie F. Juven, 1905.
  • "Obituary: The Duke of Orleans". The Times ( 29 March 1926): 9.
  • "Death of the Duke of Orleans". The Times ( 29 March 1926): 14.
  • "French Pretender Ill With Pneumonia". The New York Times ( 28 March 1926): 18.
  • "French Pretender is Dead in Sicily". The New York Times. ( 29 March 1926): 1.
  • "France Uncertain on New Pretender". The New York Times. ( 30 March 1926): 15.
  • Philipps, R. Le Clerc. "French Pretender Had Little or No Support". The New York Times. ( 4 April 1926): XX6.

External links[edit]

Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1869–1926)
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 24 August 1869 Died: 28 March 1926
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Philippe VII
King of the French
8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
Succeeded by
Jean III