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Charles, Prince Napoléon

Prince Napoléon
Head of the House of Bonaparte
Period 3 May 1997–present
Predecessor Napoléon VI Louis
Heir Apparent Napoléon VIII Jean-Christophe
Spouse Princess Béatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Jeanne-Françoise Valliccioni
Issue Princess Caroline Napoléon
Prince Jean-Christophe
Sophie Cathérine
Anh (adopted)
Full name
Charles Marie Jérôme Victor
House House of Bonaparte
Father Louis, Prince Napoléon
Mother Alix de Foresta
Born (1950-10-19) 19 October 1950
Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Charles, Prince Napoléon (Charles Marie Jérôme Victor Napoléon) (born 19 October 1950) is a French politician, and is recognised by some Bonapartists as the head of the Imperial House of France and as heir to the rights and legacy established by his great-great-grand-uncle, Emperor Napoléon I, as Napoléon VII. Other Bonapartists consider his son Jean Christophe to be the current head of the house and heir.


  • Family background 1
  • Education and profession 2
  • Marriage and children 3
  • Dynastic dispute 4
  • Political career 5
  • Titles and styles 6
  • Ancestry 7
  • References and notes 8
  • External links 9

Family background

Charles is the son of the late Louis, Prince Napoléon (1914–1997), and as such a great-great-grandson in the male line of Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia, Napoléon's youngest brother. As neither Napoléon I nor Napoléon III of France had surviving legitimate issue in the male line, Jérôme's descendants represent the only Imperial Bonapartes still living (the American Bonapartes were senior in descent from King Jérôme, but the last male of that line died in 1945, nor was this branch ever considered dynastic).

Charles's mother is Alix de Foresta (born 4 April 1926), daughter of Albéric, comte de Foresta. Although she was the only consort of the surviving Imperial line not born a princess, her family had been nobles in Lombardy since the 13th century, becoming counts palatine in 1330, constables of Venice in 1425, then retainers of the powerful Doria family in Genoa. They settled in Provence, France early in the 16th century, where they acquired twenty-two manors and the title of marquis by 1651.[1] Ironically, the Forestas distinguished themselves during the French Restoration as courtiers loyal to the House of Bourbon, and to Henri, comte de Chambord in particular.[1] Long established as squires of large estates and rice paddies in the Camargue, the Forestas often welcomed Charles and his siblings there while they were growing up.[2]

Charles was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France along with his twin sister, Princess Cathérine. He was baptised at Saint-Louis-des-Invalides by the Apostolic nuncio to France Archbishop Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII).[3] Charles spent much of his youth at the family's ancestral retreat-in-exile, the Villa Prangins on Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Geneva in Switzerland. He has two younger siblings, Princess Laure (born 1952) and Prince Jérôme (born 1957). His sisters are married, while his brother remains a bachelor.

Education and profession

Charles attended school at Sainte-croix-des-neiges in Abondance, Haute-Savoie, taking off 1964–1965 to study German in the Black Forest. He holds a doctorate in Economics from the Sorbonne. He has written essays and books, including "History of Urban Transportation" (Histoire des Transports Urbains, Dunod-Bordas), "Bonaparte and Paoli" (Bonaparte et Paoli, Plon-Perrin, 2000), "The Bonapartes, Rebels at Heart" (Les Bonaparte, des esprits rebelles, Plon-Perrin, 2006), and "For a New Republic" (Pour une nouvelle République, to be published by Pharos, 2007). He makes frequent public appearances in support of his political beliefs and candidacies.

Charles has worked professionally as a banker, financial planner, and real estate developer and as a visiting professor at the American Institute on Foreign Policy.

Marriage and children

On 19 December 1978, Charles married his distant cousin, Princess Béatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, daughter of Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Castro, a pretender to the throne of the Two Sicilies. Although both families are Roman Catholic, the couple declined religious nuptials in favour of a civil wedding in Paris.

Charles and Béatrice had two children:

  • HIH Princess Caroline Napoléon (born 24 October 1980) married Eric Alain Marie Quérénet-Onfroy de Bréville (born 20 June 1971), son of François Quérénet-Onfroy de Bréville and his wife Christiane Vincent de Vaugelas, on 19 September 2009 in Castellabate nel Cilento, Italy:[4]
    • Elvire Quérénet-Onfroy de Breville (born in 2010),
    • Augustin Quérénet-Onfroy de Breville (born in April 2013).[5]
  • HIH Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon or Prince Impérial (born 11 July 1986)

Charles and Béatrice were divorced on 2 May 1989.

On 28 September 1996, Charles was married in a civil ceremony to Jeanne-Françoise Valliccioni (born in Ortiporio, Corsica on 26 March 1958). She had previously married Erik Langrais on 15 July 1978 at Casaglione, Corsica, from whom she was divorced on 24 July 1990. When Charles and Jeanne-Françoise wed, they already had a daughter:

  • Sophie Cathérine Napoléon Bonaparte (born in Paris, 18 April 1992).[6]

In 1998 the couple adopted a daughter of Vietnamese extraction:

Dynastic dispute

Although officially recognized as heir apparent to the Bonapartist claim during the lifetime of his father Prince Louis Napoléon, when the latter's will was made public on 2 December 1997 (seven months after his death), it declared that Prince Charles was to be bypassed as dynastic heir in favour of his only son, Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon, then 11 years old.[7]

In an interview published by Le Figaro on 2 December 1997, Jean-Marc Varaut, the attorney who witnessed the late Prince Louis Napoléon's will and subsequently represented the dynastic interests of Prince Jean Christophe against his father, stated that Prince Charles had alienated himself from the Bonaparte legacy by publicly espousing "republican and democratic opinions.... He has deprived himself of all rights to dynastic heritage in remarrying without his father's permission... which is against the rules of the imperial family."[8][9]

In his will, Louis cited three sources for his authority to exclude his son as dynastic heir:

  • The Senatus Consultus of 7 November 1852 (an amendment to the [10]
  • The Imperial Family Statute of 21 June 1853: It substantially reinstated the [11]
  • Dynastic tradition: Among the Bonapartes this includes legal changes in the succession order during the first and second empires, and post-monarchy attempts to change heirs by [12]
Charles has expressed scepticism that his father's genuine intention was to disinherit him dynastically, "Without doubt, he had a mood swing, exploited by conservative elements in his entourage with whom I have long clashed.... I am fighting so that my family ceases to be the victim of attempted manipulation."[8] Moreover, Prince Charles denies that his father had the authority, by law or tradition, to exclude him from the order of succession:
"Even if I accept their premise, referring me to the Senatus Consultus of Napoleon III, divorce did not exist under the Second Empire, so it cannot be taken into account for the succession.... Moreover, the hypocrisy of this argument is exposed by the dates: My father's will was written in May 1996. I only re-married in October. All that matters is the Bonaparte tradition, which makes the eldest son the natural heir of his father."[13]

Aside from his second marriage, Varaut alleged that Louis was offended that his son unilaterally had French civil authorities change their surname from "Napoléon-Bonaparte" to "Napoléon" during his divorce in 1989. But Charles maintains that the family's legal surname had, in fact, been Napoléon until altered through clerical error on his birth certificate. When Charles requested that his surname be corrected, the civil authorities proceeded to apply the same change to the father's surname, "but not at my initiative."[13]

Varaut further drew attention to the fact that Charles was warned in advance by his father that he would be purged from the succession, and that he had responded to his father with a letter dated 16 June 1996 in which he asserted that his "republican" beliefs had already alienated him from the principles of the Imperial position, even before his father's decision to exclude him.[13]

When queried by the French weekly, Point de Vue, as to why he claimed headship of the Imperial dynasty in view of his republican pretensions, Charles replied, "I assume the 'moral heritage' of my name. To renounce today to my ability to become the head of our House would imply that I accept a certain number of grievances of which I have been accused...I cannot accept this sentence from another era. As for my republican sentiments, those who reproach me misunderstand the history of our family. Bonaparte – General, then First Consul – defended the Republic."[13]

Charles and his son have not engaged in the public feuding for which some of the past Bonaparte pretenders and their heirs have been notorious, and the father has stated of his son that "there will never be conflict between us".[13] A pre-screening of Un nom en héritage, a documentary television series on France's former dynasties, was the subject of a two-page spread in a December 2006 issue of Point de Vue that pictured Charles side-by-side with Jean-Christophe, both shown as participating in a cordial meeting between Napoleonic and Orléanist pretenders.[14]

Nonetheless, in November 2004 an issue of Point de Vue had announced that henceforth the magazine would accord the Bonapartist title of pretence, "the Prince Napoleon", to Jean-Christophe, whereas since 1997 that title had been attributed to Charles. This decision followed receipt by the magazine of a protest from Jean-Marc Varaut, prompted by publication in an earlier issue of a reference to Charles as "head of the Imperial house".[15] Point de Vue, which sometimes gazettes monarchist announcements, published Varaut's re-assertion of the dynastic exclusion of Charles along with the prince's response: "...the title of 'head of family' among the Bonapartes devolves, at the death of the father, upon his eldest son. That rule is not susceptible to modification by the titleholder, a fortiori when the motives involved are petty and contrary to the Civil Code. I have the honour of bearing this charge since the death of my father, and my son will assume it in turn upon my death."[16]

His Y-DNA haplotype can be found here:[17]

Political career

In 2000, Charles stood for election as mayor of Ajaccio, the historical seat of the Bonapartes in Corsica. Subsequently, he served as a member of the Ajaccio City council, and in 2004 he held the post of deputy mayor in that city.

In early 2008, Charles announced plans to stand for election in March 2008 as mayor of Nemours, where he leads a union list called "Ensemble Pour Les Nemouriens" with local personalities, such as Ginette Tardy. In the election, he was defeated by Valérie Lacroute.

Titles and styles


References and notes

  1. ^ a b "Carnet Web de Généalogie". Nobiliare de Provence – Foresta (in French). Retrieved 31 October 2006. 
  2. ^ Valynseele, Joseph (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe (in French). Paris. p. 249. 
  3. ^ Valynseele, Joseph (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe (in French). Paris. p. 240. 
  4. ^ Erede di Napoleone si sposa nel Cilento
  5. ^ Descendants of Leopold I, King of Belgium
  6. ^ hrsg. vom Dt. Adelsarchiv e.V. Hauptbearb. : Hans Friedrich von Ehrenkrook (2001). Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels: Fürstliche Häuser (in German) (Fürstliche Häuser Band XVI ed.). Limburg an der Lahn: C.A. Starke Verlag. pp. 19–21.  
  7. ^ Chantal de Badts de Cugnac ; Guy Coutant de Saisseval (2003). Le Petit Gotha (in French). Paris: Petit Gotha. p. 441.  
  8. ^ a b Herbert, Susannah (3 December 1997). "The Daily Telegraph". Father and son in battle for the Napoléonic succession. 
  9. ^ Battle rages for the Napoleonic succession
  10. ^ "". Sénatus-consulte du 7 novembre 1852 (in French). François Velde. Retrieved 30 October 2006. 
  11. ^ "". House Law of the French Imperial Family (1806) (in French). François Velde. Retrieved 30 October 2006. 
  12. ^ Valynseele, Joseph (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe (in French). Paris. pp. 226–231. 
  13. ^ a b c d e F. Billaut (16 December 1997). "Guerre de succession chez les Napoléon". Point de Vue: 18–19. 
  14. ^ Meylan, Vincent (6 December 2006). "Le Gotha Crève l'Écran". Point de Vue (in French): 42–43. 
  15. ^ "Le Titre de prince Napoléon". Point de Vue (in French): 21. 24 November 2004. 
  16. ^ "Charles Napoléon s'explique". Point de Vue (in French): 20. 24 November 2004. 
  17. ^
  • Opfell, Olga S. "H.I.H. Charles, Prince Napoleon Imperial House of France (House of Bonaparte)," Royalty Who Waits: The 21 Heads of Formerly Regnant Houses of Europe. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2001. 51–61.

External links

  • Website of Charles, Prince Napoléon (In French)
  • Website of the Mexico-France Napoleonic Institute (In French and Spanish)
Charles, Prince Napoléon
Born: 19 October 1950
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Napoléon VI Louis
Emperor of the French
3 May 1997–present
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1870
Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon
King of Westphalia
3 May 1997–present
Reason for succession failure:
Kingdom dissolved in 1813
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