Henri, Count of Paris

Henri of Orléans
Count of Paris
Orleanist pretender to the French throne
Pretence 25 August 1940 – 19 June 1999
Predecessor Jean, Duke of Guise
Successor Henri, Count of Paris, Duke of France
Born (1908-07-05)5 July 1908
Died 19 June 1999(1999-06-19) (aged 90)
Burial Chapelle royale de Dreux
Spouse Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza
Issue Princess Isabelle, Countess of Schönborn-Buchheim
Prince Henri, Count of Paris
Princess Hélène, Countess of Limburg-Stirum
Prince François, Duke of Orléans
Princess Anne, Duchess of Calabria
Diane, Duchess of Württemberg
Prince Michel, Count of Évreux
Prince Jacques, Duke of Orléans
Princess Claude, Duchess of Aosta
Princess Chantal, Baroness de Sambucy de Sorgue
Prince Thibaut, Count of La Marche
Full name
Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie Louis Philippe
House Orléans
Father Jean, Duke of Guise
Mother Isabelle, Duchess of Guise
Religion Roman Catholicism

Henri of Orléans, Count of Paris (Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie Louis Philippe 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.

Youth and education

He was born at the castle 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 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 Woluwé-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 General de Gondrecourt and Charles Benoist, a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques who would serve as his advisor from 1930.[1]


In 1926, he became the Dauphin of France in pretence when his father became the Orléanist claimant to the throne.[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]
As historian Hal Vaughan notes in his book FDR's 12 Apostles (Guilford, CT.: Lyons Press, 2006), 224 & 296 n 489, in mid-November 1942, Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie, a Vichy intelligence official serving under Admiral Darlan (who had just signed an armistice with American & British forces that allowed Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa), attempted to promote a royalist coup, and had colleagues Abbe' Cordier and Master-Sergeant Sabatier (a French instructor at an OSS-SOE camp in Algiers) secretly bring Henri, Comte de Paris from Morocco to d'Astier's apartment in Algiers. Both Darlan and U.S. General Eisenhower nixed the idea, however.

In 1950, after the law of exile was rescinded, Henri returned to France.

Marriage and family life

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 mutual ancestors, Louis Philippe of France and his Queen Maria Amalia, married in 1809.[2] Guests at the wedding included official representatives of the Italian, Greek, Belgian, Danish, Spanish, and British Royal Families.[3] The Count and Countess of Paris were the parents of eleven children and separated in 1986.

During his tenure as pretender to the throne, Henri dissipated 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.

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".

Henri also 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.

He died of prostate cancer at Cherisy, near Dreux, France.


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

Isabelle Marie Laure Victoire 8 April 1932 married Friedrich Karl, Count of Schönborn-Buchheim; has issue.
Henri Philippe Pierre Marie, Count of Paris 14 June 1933 married Duchess Marie Thérèse of Württemberg; has issue.
Hélène Astrid Léopoldine Marie[4] 17 September 1934[4] 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 4 December 1938[5] married Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria; has issue.
Diane Françoise Maria da Gloria 24 March 1940 married Carl, Duke of Württemberg; has issue.
Michel Joseph Benoît Marie, Count of Évreux 25 June 1941 married Béatrice Pasquier de Franclieu; has issue.
Jacques Jean Yaroslaw Marie, Duke of Orléans 25 June 1941 married Gersende de Sabran-Pontevès; has issue.
Princess Claude Marie Agnès Catherine 11 December 1943 married Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta; has issue.
Jeanne Chantal Alice Clothilde Marie 9 January 1946 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.


Multiple descent from Louis-Philippe

Henri's three great-grandfathers (Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans, is a double great-grandfather) were sons of King Louis-Philippe, making Henri a quadruple great-great-grandson of the King, as well as being the grandson of four members of the House of Orléans. Henri's wife, Isabelle, was also a great-great-grandchild of Louis-Philippe (in the male line) and therefore their children are descended from Louis-Philippe five times as great-great-great-grandchildren.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 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. "ITALY: Million-Dollar Nuptials". Time. Time-Warner, Inc. 20 April 1931. 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).
  3. "ITALY: Million-Dollar Nuptials". Time. Time-Warner, Inc. 20 April 1931. 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.
  4. 1 2 "Princess Is Christened", The New York Times, Brussels, 16 October 1934
  5. "Countess Has Daughter", The New York Times, Brussels, 5 December 1938
  6. Royal Ark


Henri, Count of Paris
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
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