Let Us Survey the Current Claimants to the Totally Defunct Throne of France

An audience with Louis XIV
Image: Getty

Earlier this week, Henri d’Orléans, Count of Paris, died at the age of 85. This throws the question of the rightful heir to the long-kaput French throne into total disarray!!!!

The Guardian has the latest from France. You see, Henri was descended from Louis XIV’s brother, the Duke of Orléans, giving him theoretically the strongest claim to a crown that has been toast for quite some time. He has a son, Prince Jean de France, who accedes to his title, which—let’s be clear—exists in no official capacity. “I think France is monarchist at heart, and republican through reason,” he said in a recent interview. Sure, Jean.

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However, Henri’s death creates an opportunity for his two chief rivals:

The legitimacy of this is contested by the rival Bourbon house, whose pretender king is Louis de Bourbon, the Duke of Anjou or Louis XX to his followers.

Louis is a direct descendant via the all-important male line of Louis XIV. He is also a descendant of Queen Victoria and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

The third candidate is Jean-Christophe Napoléon, also known as Prince Napoléon, a descendant of Bonaparte’s brother Jerôme and the Emperor Napoléon III, France’s last monarch before it put an end to the position for good.

Jean-Christophe Napoléon is a banker in London; Louis de Bourbon apparently runs around calling himself “head of the Bourbon household” and also “was brought up partly in Spain and is subject to mockery from French royalists for his accent,” the Guardian noted.

In another time, this would have been precisely the sort of moment when an ambitious person could promote himself from “pretender” to “claimant” to “your majesty.” Nowadays it’s mostly an opportunity to get yourself an upgrade in terms of your billing in Town and Country magazine. Whatever floats your royal yacht, guys!

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