Louis, Prince Napoléon

Prince Napoléon
Head of the House of Bonaparte
Period 3 May 1926 – 3 May 1997
Predecessor Napoléon V
Successor Napoléon VII
Napoléon VIII
Born (1914-01-23)23 January 1914
Brussels, Belgium
Died 3 May 1997(1997-05-03) (aged 83)
Prangins, Switzerland
Spouse Alix de Foresta
Issue Charles, Prince Napoléon
Princess Catherine
Princess Laure
Prince Jérôme
House Bonaparte
Father Victor, Prince Napoléon
Mother Princess Clémentine of Belgium

Louis, Prince Napoléon, (Louis Jérôme Victor Emmanuel Léopold Marie; 23 January 1914 – 3 May 1997) as Napoleon VI was the pretender to the Imperial throne of France of the Bonaparte dynasty from 1926 until his death.

Early life

He was born in Brussels, Belgium, due to the law which then banned heirs of the former French ruling dynasties from residing in France. He was the son of Victor, Prince Napoléon and his wife Princess Clémentine of Belgium, daughter of King Leopold II of the Belgians and Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria. Leopold II's mother, Princess Louise-Marie of Orléans, was the eldest daughter of King Louis Philippe I, ruler of France during the July Monarchy.

As a child, Prince Louis spent some time in England, where he stayed with Empress Eugénie, the widow of Napoleon III. He was educated in Leuven, Belgium and in Lausanne, Switzerland. When his father died on 3 May 1926, the 12-year-old Prince Louis succeeded as the Bonapartist pretender to the Imperial throne of France, his mother acting as regent until he came of age.[1]

Second World War and later life

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Prince Louis wrote to the French prime minister, Édouard Daladier, offering to serve in the French Army. His offer was refused, and so he assumed the nom de guerre of Louis Blanchard and joined the French Foreign Legion, seeing action in North Africa before being demobilised in 1941 following the Second Armistice at Compiègne. He then joined the French Resistance and was arrested by the Germans after attempting to cross the Pyrenees on his way to London to join Free French leader Charles de Gaulle. Following his arrest, he spent time in various prisons, including Fresnes. Following his release, he joined the French Resistance group Organisation de Résistance dans l'Armee under the name Louis Monnier. Another member of the Charles Martel Brigade to which he belonged was his cousin Joachim, Prince Murat, who was killed in July 1944. Prince Louis himself narrowly escaped death a month later when, on 28 August, he was badly wounded as part of a seven-man patrol that came under attack; he was the sole survivor. Following his recovery, he joined the Alpine Division and was later decorated for bravery.

After the war, he lived in Switzerland and, irregularly, in Paris until 1950, when the law of banishment against the heads of France's former ruling dynasties was repealed.

Prince Louis became a successful businessman with a number of financial interests in Africa. In 1951, the prince sent a memorial wreath bearing the Napoleonic 'N' insignia to the funeral of William, German Crown Prince, son of the deposed Wilhelm II, German Emperor. This was seen as an ironic gesture by royalists at the time, given the fact that it was the German House of Hohenzollern that had defeated and dethroned Louis Napoleon's own imperial house during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

Following Prince Louis's death in Prangins, Switzerland, his will designated his grandson, Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon, as his successor, thereby bypassing his elder son, Prince Charles Napoléon.[2]



Louis married Alix de Foresta (born 4 April 1926), on 16 August 1949 at Linières-Bouton, France. They had four children:[3]



  1. Milestones, Time Magazine
  2. Battle rages for the Napoleonic succession
  3. Nicolas Enache. La Descendance de Marie-Thérèse de Habsbourg, Reine de Hongrie et de Bohême. Paris, 1999. ISBN 2-908003-04-X pp. 200, 210
Louis, Prince Napoléon
Born: 23 January 1914 Died: 3 May 1997
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Napoléon V Victor
Emperor of the French
King of Westphalia

3 May 1926 – 3 May 1997
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1870
Kingdom dissolved in 1813
Succeeded by
Napoléon VII Charles
Napoléon VIII Jean-Christophe
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