Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou - Current Pretender to the French Throne
On April 25, 1974, a boy was born to Alfonso of Bourbon, the Duke of Anjou and Cadiz and María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco. They named him Louis Alphonse Gonzalve Victor Emmanuel Marc de Bourbon, but he is now known as Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou.
What's interesting about this guy, besides the fact that he has so many names, is that he is a direct descendant of Hugh Capet, who began a long line of French kings, which included Louis XVI.
Certain factions of "royalists" in France and other countries consider that the Duke has a direct claim to the throne of France.
What's really interesting about the claim of Louis Alphonse is that the French monarchy no longer exists.
So how does one come to be a pretender to a throne no longer in existence?
Well, that's pretty complicated and simple all at the same time.
What Happened to the French Monarchy?
Louis XVI was not a very good king. This was compounded by the fact that his people were poor and starving, yet his court was rich and lavish. In 1792, after a revolt, the monarchy of France was abolished and, the next year, Louis XVI was executed, as was his wife, Marie Antoinette.
The French were governed by decidedly non-royal people until 1804, when Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself the Emperor of France. In 1814, however, the throne went back to the House of Bourbon under King Louis XVIII, the brother of the deposed and executed Louis XVI. (Louis XVII was the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, but was never crowned and, in fact, apparently died in prison at the age of ten.)
The monarchy bounced back and forth between the House of Bourbon and the Bonapartes as well as the House of Orleans until 1875, at which point the government was taken over by private (read: non-royal) leaders. The monarchy was no more.
This did not stop the royals from claiming that they still had a right to rule, which some families continue to this day.
The Bonaparte family is still very much involved in French politics, though the House of Bonaparte is somewhat confused as to who is its leader. Charles Napoléon is the senior surviving male of this line, but he was passed over as the heir in his father's will. Because of this, some Bonapartists support Charles and others stand behind his son, Jean-Christophe, who was the heir named in Louis, Prince Napoleon's will. This is quite an issue for some French citizens, because there were no legitimate surviving male heirs of Napoleon I or any of his heirs.
From the 14th century with Edward III, King of England, and ending with George III, the English monarchy claimed that they were also entitled to the throne of France. Though this claim was dropped in 1800, there is a contingent that calls itself the Jacobites, for King James II of England. Though the family itself does not actively pursue the claim, the current Jacobite Pretender to the French throne is Franz, Duke of Bavaria.
The Bourbons of India
Though it may seem hard to believe, there is a family in India who may be direct descendants of the royal French House of Bourbon. Though they make no claim to the throne, the current head of this family is Balthazar of Bourbon-Bhopal.
The Orleans Branch of the House of Bourbon
The Orleans Branch of the House of Bourbon is a cadet branch, which means that the people in this family descended from a junior member of the royal family - in this case, Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, a brother of Louis XIV. The current head of this House is Henri d'Orléans, Count of Paris, who also styles himself as the Duke of France.
Did you know there were pretenders to the French throne?
The House of Bourbon's Claim to the French Throne
The House of Bourbon descended from the House of Capet, whose first king, a man named Hugh Capet, reigned as King of France from 987 to 996. The Bourbon branch itself ruled from 1589 to 1792 and again from 1815 to 1830.
Louis Alphonse, current Duke of Anjou is descended from this line of French kings. Hia father, Alfonso of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz, actually had to battle for his title in a French court - he was sued by the Orleanist pretender, Henri d'Orléans, for the use of the title Duke of Anjou. The courts effectively ruled that d'Orleans had not proven any claim to the title.
As it stands, there will likely never be another French monarchy, but don't feel too bad for Louis Alphonse. He's done pretty well for himself, throne or no. He is currently married with three kids and currently works in banking. He's been able to live all over the world, as well, including Venezuela and the United States.
© 2013 GH Price