Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma

Prince Xavier
Duke of Parma
Head of House of Bourbon-Parma
Period 15 November 1974 – 7 May 1977
Predecessor Duke Robert
Successor Duke Carlos Hugo
Born (1889-05-25)25 May 1889
Camaiore, Italy
Died 7 May 1977(1977-05-07) (aged 87)
Zizers, Switzerland
Burial Solesmes Abbey
Spouse Madeleine de Bourbon
Issue Maria Francisca, Princess of Lobkowicz
Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma
Princess Maria Teresa
Princess Cecilia
Princess Marie des Neiges
Prince Sixtus Henry
Full name
Francis Xavier Charles Maria
House Bourbon-Parma
Father Robert I, Duke of Parma
Mother Maria Antonia of Portugal
Religion Christian
Styles of
Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

Xavier, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, known before 1974 as Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma (called Francisco Javier de Borbón Parma y de Braganza in Spain; 25 May 1889 – 7 May 1977) was the head of the ducal House of Bourbon-Parma, pretender to the defunct throne of Parma, and Carlist claimant to the royal throne of Spain under the name (Francisco) Javier I.

Early life

Xavier was the son of Robert, Duke of Parma, and of his second wife, Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal. He was born at Villa Pianore, near Viareggio in Italy. He had eleven brothers and sisters, including Empress Zita of Austria and Felix (consort of Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg). From his father's first marriage, he had a further twelve half-siblings including Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma (consort of the future Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria) and Duke Elias of Parma.

Xavier spent his earliest years at Villa Pianore and at Schwarzau am Steinfelde in Austria. His first tutor was Father Sergio Alonso, a member of the Order of Saint Gabriel. Xavier and his older brother Sixtus studied at the Jesuit college Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria and then in Carlsburg, Germany. He went to university in Paris where he obtained degrees in agriculture and political science.

During World War I Xavier and his brother Prince Sixtus enlisted in the Belgian Army. Several of their older brothers were officers in the Austrian Army. Xavier received the French Croix de guerre and the Belgian Croix de guerre. He was also awarded the Cross of the Order of Leopold II.

In 1917 Xavier assisted his brother Sixtus in the so-called Sixtus Affair, a failed attempt to negotiate a peace treaty between Austria and France.

Marriage and family

On 12 November 1927 at Lignières in France, Xavier married Madeleine de Bourbon-Busset. Although most senior by agnatic primogeniture, the Busset branch of the House of Bourbon was deemed to be either illegitimate in origin or descended from a secret marriage lacking royal permission and had therefore always been treated as non-dynastic in France.[1]

Xavier and Madeleine had six children:

Xavier's marriage to Madeleine was recognized as dynastic by the Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain, Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime, who was married to the sister of Xavier's mother. However, Xavier's half-brother Elias – who was regent for their handicapped brother Duke Enrico of Parma – did not recognize the marriage as dynastic regarding the succession to the ducal throne of Parma.[1] The reason for this lack of dynastic recognition was in part Madeleine's ancestry, but it was also influenced by other political and family differences: During the 1920s and 1930s Elias and Xavier were on opposing sides of a family legal battle over the ownership of the Château de Chambord.[1] Elias had also recognized Alfonso XIII as constitutional king of Spain, in spite of the fact that his father Robert had supported the Carlist claimants.[1] The links between Elias and Alfonso XIII had been strengthened with Elias' marriage to Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, a first cousin of the Spanish king.

In 1961 Elias' son and successor as head of the family, Duke Robert Hugo, Duke of Parma recognized the marriage between Xavier and Madeleine as dynastic regarding the succession to the ducal throne of Parma.[1]

He is the godfather of Prince Jérôme Napoléon, Carlos, Duke of Parma and Marie-Madeleine d'Alançon.

Carlist regent

Coat of arms used by the supporters of the Carlist claimants to the Spanish Throne with the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary adopted c.1942 by Xavier of Bourbon.

The early 1930s were years of both struggle and opportunity for the Carlists in Spain. Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime, was in his eighties and childless; he was the last male-line descendant of the first Carlist claimant, Infante Carlos, Count of Molina. Some Carlists considered that Alfonso Carlos' heir was Alfonso XIII, the exiled constitutional king of Spain;[1] but many believed that Alfonso and his family were all excluded from the succession.

Faced with this uncertainty Alfonso Carlos appointed Xavier regent of the Carlist Communion on 23 January 1936.[1] Alfonso Carlos considered that Xavier was the senior male Bourbon who was committed to the Carlist principles. Several months later the Spanish Civil War began. Xavier was named commander-in-chief of the Carlist armies.

During World War II Xavier returned to service as a colonel in the Fourth Division of the Belgian Army.[1] After the surrender of Belgium in May 1940, he retreated to Dunkirk where his division was incorporated in the 39th French Army. He was demobilized and joined the French maquis. General Francisco Franco gave permission for Xavier's mother and sister Zita to travel through Spain to Portugal, but refused permission to Xavier. Instead he was forced to remain in Vichy France.

On 22 July 1944 Xavier was arrested by the Gestapo. He was imprisoned for a month at Vichy and then at Clermont-Ferrand where he was classified as a "Nacht und Nebel" political prisoner. On account of the approaching Allied armies Xavier was sent to Natzweiler-Struthof, then to Dachau, and then to Niederdorf in the Tyrol.[1] On 4 May 1945 he was liberated by the United States Army.[2]

After the war Xavier re-established himself as the leader of the largest Carlist group in Spain. Some Carlists supported Juan, the son of Alfonso XIII.[1] Others supported Archduke Karl Pius of Austria, a maternal grandson of Carlos, Duke of Madrid.[1]

Carlist king

Prince Xavier at wedding of his daughter Maria Francisca in 1960.

On 20 May 1952, the National Council of the Traditionalist Communion (the Carlists who supported Xavier) declared that the regency was over and that Xavier was the rightful successor to the Spanish throne. Henceforward Xavier claimed the throne as Javier I.[1]

Xavier kept up Carlist activity in Spain.[1] He was generally opposed to the government of General Franco who lent his support more to Juan, son of Alfonso XIII, and Archduke Karl Pius of Austria. In 1956 the government expelled Xavier from Spain.

In 1962 Xavier allowed his elder son Carlos Hugo to meet Franco; this was the first of several meetings. Xavier and Carlos Hugo believed that there was a real possibility that Franco might name Carlos Hugo as his heir instead of Juan Carlos, the grandson of Alfonso XIII. Many Carlists disapproved of these negotiations with Franco.

On 22 February 1972 Xavier was injured in a traffic accident. Carlos Hugo became the active leader of Carlism. He initiated a new form of Carlism, transforming it into a socialist movement.[1] Carlos Hugo was very successful in attracting new support for this socialist-Carlism, but also alienated many traditional Carlist supporters.[1]

Abdication and death

On 20 April 1975 Xavier abdicated as Carlist king in favour of Carlos Hugo.[1] His younger son Sixtus Henry opposed the succession of Carlos Hugo and presented himself as the "standard-bearer" (abanderado) of traditional Carlism. Xavier issued a declaration affirming that his abdication had been voluntary, and that Sixtus Henry had separated himself from Carlism.

The battle between Xavier's sons continued with each claiming their father's support. Carlos Hugo was supported by his three unmarried sisters, while Sixtus Henry was supported by his mother.

Carlos Hugo accused Sixtus Henry of having abducted Xavier who was then in hospital. Sixtus Henry published a declaration from Xavier dated 4 March 1977 in which Xavier re-affirmed his support for traditional Carlism. In this document Xavier condemned the socialist form of Carlism which he described as "a very serious doctrinal error".[3] Three days later on 7 March 1977, Xavier's daughter Cecilia took Xavier out of hospital in order to take him to mass. On this occasion Xavier signed another declaration published by Carlos Hugo in which he confirmed Carlos Hugo as his heir.[4] The next day Xavier's wife Madeleine published a declaration condemning Carlos Hugo and Cecilia.[5]

On 7 May 1977 Xavier died of a heart attack in a hospital at Zizers near Chur in Switzerland; he had been visiting his sister the Empress Zita of Austria. Xavier was buried at St. Peter's Abbey, Solesmes where three of his sisters had been nuns.

He was until his death Lieutenant-General of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

In fiction

The television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles presents Xavier (played by Matthew Wait) and his brother Sixtus (played by Benedict Taylor) as Belgian officers in World War I who help the young Indiana Jones.


Xavier wrote several scholarly works:


National honour

Foreign honour



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Coutant de Saisseval, Guy (1985). La Légitimité Monarchique (in French). Paris: Editions Christian. pp. 140–145, 177, 185, 197–199. ISBN 978-2-86496-018-8.
  2. Peter Koblank: Die Befreiung der Sonder- und Sippenhäftlinge in Südtirol, Online-Edition Mythos Elser 2006 (German)
  3. "Declaración de S.M.C. Don Javier de Borbón". 2009-10-25. Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  4. "Última Declaración Política de Don Javier", in Don Javier: una vida al servicio de la libertad, 417.
  5. "Declaración de Doña Magdalena de Borbón". 2009-10-25. Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 2014-02-03.


Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma
Cadet branch of the House of Capet
Born: 25 May 1889 Died: 7 May 1977
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Robert II
Duke of Parma
Reason for succession failure:
Annexed by Kingdom of Sardinia
Succeeded by
Carlos Hugo I
Preceded by
Alfonso Carlos I
King of Spain
Carlist claimants to the throne of Spain

1936–1952 as regent
1952–1977 as king
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