Sunday, June 1, 2014

NAPOLEON IV ~ March 16, 1856 ~ June 1, 1879

Napoléon IV, Prince Imperial, often referred to as Louis Napoléon (Full name: Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph, 16 March 1856 – 1 June 1879), Prince Imperial, Fils de France, was the only child of Emperor Napoleon III of France and his Empress consort Eugénie de Montijo. His early death in Africa sent shock waves throughout Europe, as he was the last dynastic hope for the restoration of the Bonapartes to the throne of France.

On my first trip to the UK in 1978, I visited St. George's Chapel in Windsor. It's a splendid late Gothic building with insignia for the Knights of the Garter. I saw the tombs of George V and Queen Mary, and visited the old chapel, which houses an impressive bronze tomb of Mary's first fiance, George's older brother, the Duke of Clarence, who may very well have been the real "Jack the Ripper" (but that's a story for another post.)

When I went into the gift shop, I was startled to see Bonaparte imperial bees, and laurel wreathed 'N's featured on the stained glass. What on earth were these symbols doing in an English Royal Chapel? Well it turned out that this was the memorial side chapel of the Prince Imperial, who had died fighting for the British in Africa. He was the only Bonaparte to die in battle, I believe. He was shot with Zulu arrows. So Victoria honored him with a side chapel in Windsor. How gracious! But then memories fade, and today--or at least thirty-three years ago-- crass commercialism took over and his chapel was the gift shop. You had to look for his marble effigy... completely surrounded by merchandise!

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