Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jean d'Orléans in the WSJ

The Wall Street Journal interviews the recently engaged Jean, Duc de Vendôme (b. 1965), son of the most widely recognized claimant to the French throne. (H/T: Royal Musings)

I'm glad to see the WSJ paying attention to non-reigning royalty (though the reader comments--open only to subscribers--are uniformly disgusting), and that HRH persists in believing in the future of the French monarchy, no matter how unlikely its restoration seems at present. But there are a few misleading statements in the article.

(1) The [Spanish] Bourbons (the French Bourbon senior line became extinct in 1883) and the Orléans are not two separate families or dynasties. They are different branches of the same family, the Capetians, who ruled France from 987 to the Revolution and then again until 1848, and remain on the thrones of Spain and Luxembourg. Both the Duke of Anjou ("Louis XX") and the Duke of Vendôme are descended in the male line from King Louis XIII (1601-1643), the former from his elder son Louis XIV (1638-1715) and the latter from his younger son Philippe Duc d'Orléans (1640-1701). While it is not incorrect to state that "[t]he Orléans are related to Louis Philippe I, who ruled France between 1830 and 1848 and was related to Louis XIV's younger brother," why not specify that the Orléans are descended from Louis Philippe I (1773-1850), who was descended from Louis XIV's younger brother? "Related" makes it sound like some vague connection less direct than it actually is. As direct male-line descendants of Henri IV (the first "Bourbon" King of France) and his son Louis XIII, in a sense the Orléans family are "Bourbons" too.

(2) Luis Alfonso de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (b. 1974), is not a "distant cousin" of the King of Spain. His father was Juan Carlos's first cousin, making them first cousins once removed. That is not a "distant" relationship!

(3) The idea that a Spaniard cannot be King of France is not really an "old tradition," but rather an odd way of summarizing the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which stipulated that the crowns of Spain and France could never be united. The main issue, however, is not that stipulation (since Luis Alfonso is not in line to the Spanish throne), but rather the fact that Louis XIV's grandson Philippe Duc d'Anjou (from whom the Spanish and Italian Bourbons, including Luis Alfonso, all descend) renounced for himself and his descendants any claim to the French throne in order to be recognized as King Felipe V of Spain (1683-1746); the validity of that renunciation is the key dispute between supporters of "Louis XX" and supporters of "Henri VII" (Jean's father).

That said, kudos to Prince Jean for his determination to remain above "Left" and "Right" and "sow ideas" for Restoration. Vive le Roi---whoever "le Roi" is! (This blog would gladly acclaim either Louis XX or Henri VII rather than the French Republic!)


Aaron Traas said...

I do like HRH's attitude in general. It is refreshing to see the WSJ cover such a piece like this without any hostility.

If the French courts won't decide, who would have the authority to decide which claimant is the rightful heir?

William Harvey said...

It is odd how few people understand the concept of cousins. Dave Barry has also remarked on this.