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Philippe d'Orléans (1869-1926)

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Title: Philippe d'Orléans (1869-1926)  
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Subject: House of Bourbon, Orléanist, Prince Philippe, Count of Paris, Prince Jean, Duke of Guise, List of Knights of the Golden Fleece, House of Orléans, Luigi Lucheni, Family of Barrau, Victor, Prince Napoléon, Camelots du Roi
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Philippe d'Orléans (1869-1926)

Prince Philippe
Duke of Orléans ; Duke of Montpensier

Orleanist pretender to the French throne
Pretendence 8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
Predecessor Philippe VII
Successor Jean III
Duke of Orléans
Tenure 8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
Predecessor Philippe, Duke of Orléans
Duke of Montpensier
Tenure 8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
Predecessor Philippe, Duke of Montpensier
Successor Jean d'Orléans, duc de Guise
Spouse Archduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria
Father Philippe, Count of Paris
Mother Marie Isabelle, Countess of Paris
Born (1869-08-24)24 August 1869
Died 28 March 1926(1926-03-28) (aged 56)
Religion Roman Catholicism

Prince Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans (24 August 1869 – 28 March 1926) was the Orléanist claimant to the throne of France from 1894 to 1926.

Early life

Philippe was born at York House, Twickenham, Middlesex, the son of Philippe, Count of Paris, and of his wife, Princess Marie Isabelle of Orléans. His family had lived in England since his great-grandfather Louis Philippe, King of the French abdicated and was exiled from France in 1848. Philippe was baptised with the names Louis-Philippe-Robert.

In 1871, Philippe returned with his parents to France. He was educated at home at the Château d'Eu and at the Collège Stanislas de Paris. In 1880 he received the title Duc d'Orléans from his father. On 16 June 1881, he received the sacrament of confirmation at Eu.[1]

Military career

Philippe began his military education at the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr. In June 1886 he was on the point of becoming an officer in the French Army when his family was once again exiled by the Republican government.

Philippe finished his military education at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was attached for service to the King's Royal Rifle Corps which was then serving in India. He never had an actual commission in the British Army, since it was necessary to avoid the French law forbidding a Frenchman to hold a commission in a foreign army without the permission of the head of state. He took rank as a lieutenant and served in India from January 1888 to March 1889. He was a staff-officer to Lord Roberts, then Commander-in-Chief in India.

In October 1889, Philippe went to Switzerland to complete a course in military theory. He fathered a son Philippe Debien by Nina, an actress working in the casino at Lausanne. [2] In February 1890 he visited Paris in violation of the law of exile of 1886. He offered to do his military service as required by law. Instead he was arrested and confined in the Conciergerie. He was sentenced to two years in prison at Clairvaux, but was released after a few months and expelled back to Switzerland.

Prior to his imprisonment in France, Philippe had been unofficially engaged to his first-cousin Princess Marguerite of Orléans.[3] The engagement was cancelled when Philippe's involvement with the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba was revealed. Although they had lived apart for some years, Melba was married to Charles Nesbitt Armstrong. Armstrong filed for divorce from Melba on the grounds of adultery, naming Philippe as co-respondent; the case was eventually dropped.[4]

In September 1890, Philippe accompanied his father on a two month trip to the United States and Canada.[5] They visited the battlefields of the Civil War in which his father had fought, as well as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, New York, and Quebec.

In December 1890, Philippe tried unsuccessfully to serve in the Russian Army.[6] In March 1893, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.[7]

In March 1894, Philippe went to Egypt and Palestine with his sister Hélène, Duchess of Aosta. Then he went lion shooting in Ethiopia. In May 1894, he was attached to the Royal Bucks Hussars, a yeomanry regiment.[8]

Claimant to the throne

Upon the death of his father 8 September 1894, Philippe became the Orléanist claimant to the French throne. He was known to monarchists as Philippe VIII. He was an active claimant, regularly issuing manifestos and awarding orders of chivalry. As a result of his father's death, he also became a Hereditary Companion of the First Class in the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS).

In October 1895, Philippe was named as co-respondent in the divorce case of Woolston v Woolston.[9]

On 5 November 1896, in Vienna, Austria, Philippe married Archduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria (14 June 1867 – 6 April 1932), daughter of Archduke Joseph Karl of Austria, Palatine of Hungary, and granddaughter of Duchess Maria Dorothea of Württemberg, as well as niece to Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen Consort of the Belgians. There were no children from this marriage. The couple were poorly matched; after several years they lived apart.

While travelling in Geneva in 1898, he narrowly missed assassination by an anarchist, who vowed to kill the next member of royalty that he saw. The victim would be the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, stabbed to death on the quayside.

Philippe continued to reside in England until 1900, when he moved his primary residence to Belgium. He was an active yachtsman and explored parts of the western coast of Greenland in 1905. In 1907 he sailed in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, and in 1909 went even further north into the Arctic Ocean.

In 1914, Philippe and his wife Maria Dorothea were legally separated. She subsequently lived in Hungary.

At the outbreak of World War I Philippe tried again unsuccessfully to join the French Army. He was also refused permission to serve in the Belgian Army and instead returned to England. A plan to join the Italian Army was prevented by a serious accident in which he was knocked down by a bus.

In 1926, Philippe died of pneumonia at the Palais d'Orléans in Palermo, Sicily. Having no legitimate issue, he was succeeded as pretender to the throne of France by his cousin and brother-in-law Jean, Duke of Guise.


Philippe wrote a number of works based on his various travels:

  • Une expédition de chasse au Népaul. Paris: C. Lévy, 1892.
  • Une croisière au Spitzberg, yacht Maroussia, 1904. Paris: Imprimerie de Chaix, 1904.
  • Croisière océanographique: accomplie à bord de la Belgica dans la Mer du Grönland, 1905. Bruxelles: C. Bulens, 1907.
  • La revanche de la banquise: un été de dérive dans la mer de Kara, juin-septembre 1907. Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1909.
  • Campagne Arctique de 1907. Bruxelles: C. Bulens, 1910–1912.
  • Hunters and Hunting in the Arctic. London: David Nutt, 1911. (published in French as Chasses et chasseurs arctiques. Paris: Librairie Plon, 1929).

He also published a collection of the papers of his father and of the Henri, comte de Chambord:

  • La monarchie française: lettres et documents politiques (1844–1907). Paris: Librairie nationale, 1907.




  • Lafon, Marie-Françoise. Philippe, duc d'Orléans, 1869–1926: explorateur, navigateur, naturaliste. Paris: Société nouvelle des Editions Boubée, 1999.
  • Colleville, Ludovic, comte de. Le duc d'Orléans intime: la jeunesse du duc d'Orléans, à l'armée des Indes, le duc en France, son arrestation, le mariage du duc d'Orléans, croisières, le mouvement néo-royaliste. Paris: Librairie F. Juven, 1905.
  • "Obituary: The Duke of Orleans". The Times ( 29 March 1926): 9.
  • "Death of the Duke of Orleans". The Times ( 29 March 1926): 14.
  • "French Pretender Ill With Pneumonia". The New York Times ( 28 March 1926): 18.
  • "French Pretender is Dead in Sicily". The New York Times. ( 29 March 1926): 1.
  • "France Uncertain on New Pretender". The New York Times. ( 30 March 1926): 15.
  • Philipps, R. Le Clerc. "French Pretender Had Little or No Support". The New York Times. ( 4 April 1926): XX6.

External links

Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1869–1926)
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 24 August 1869 Died: 28 March 1926
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Philippe VII
King of the French
8 September 1894 – 28 March 1926
Succeeded by
Jean IV
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