by Scott Mehl
Louis Philippe I, King of the French
Louis Philippe I, King of the French, reigned over France from 1830 until he was forced to abdicate in 1848. He was born at the Palais Royal in Paris on October 6, 1773, the eldest child of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans and Louise Marie Adélaïde of Bourbon.
He had four siblings:
- Louis Antoine Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Montpensier (1775) – unmarried
- Louise Marie Adélaïde Eugénie d’Orléans (1777) – unmarried
- Françoise d’Orléans (1777) – died in childhood
- Louis Charles d’Orléans, Count of Beaujolais (1779) – unmarried
At the onset of the French Revolution, Louis Philippe fled the country to avoid likely execution, which would be the fate of his father, and many members of the French royal family, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. He traveled extensively around Europe, and spent several years in the United States.
On November 25, 1809 in Palermo, Italy, Louis Philippe married Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily. She was the daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria. They had ten children:
- Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1810) – married Helene of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, had issue
- Louise Marie d’Orléans (1812) – married King Leopold I of the Belgians, had issue
- Marie d’Orléans (1813) – married Duke Alexander of Württemberg, had issue
- Louis d’Orléans, Duke of Nemours (1814) – married Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, had issue
- Françoise d’Orléans (1816) – died in childhood
- Clémentine d’Orléans (1817) – married August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, had issue
- François d’Orléans, Prince of Joinville (1818) – married Francisca of Brazil, had issue
- Charles d’Orléans (1820) – died in childhood
- Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale (1822) – married Caroline Auguste of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, had issue
- Antoine d’Orléans, Duke of Montpensier (1824) – married Infanta Luisa Fernanda of Spain, had issue
In 1814, Emperor Napoleon was overthrown, and the Bourbons returned to the French throne. Louis Philippe returned to France and was welcomed into the French court during the reign of his cousin, King Louis XVIII. Louis XVIII died in 1824, and was succeeded by his brother, King Charles X . Louis Philippe had a closer relationship with Charles, although his liberal views were quite in contrast to the staunchly conservative Charles, and he was often viewed as a threat to the stability of the King’s reign.
In August 1830, King Charles X abdicated, naming his grandson, Henri, Duke of Bordeaux, as his successor. The King also made Louis Philippe the Lieutenant General of the Realm, and charged him with announcing the King’s successor to the Chamber of Deputies, and to serve as regent for the young Henri. Louis Philippe, however, did not make any such announcement, and within days, the Chamber instead proclaimed Louis Philippe as the new monarch of France. He took the throne on August 9, 1830, taking the title King of the French – attributing his role as King of the people instead of a territorial area. It was also an attempt to cut off any attempts of the descendants of King Charles to lay claim to the throne.
Outwardly, Louis Philippe avoided much of the pomp and ceremony – and spending – which had dominated the reigns of his predecessors. Initially much loved by the French people, he soon became unpopular when it was clear that his government became increasingly conservative and many felt that it no longer truly represented the average citizen of France. Working conditions became worse, and the divide between the rich and the poor continued to widen. This, combined with the economic crisis of 1847, led to the French Revolution of 1848 and, once again, the end of the French monarchy.
On February 24, 1848, Louis Philippe abdicated in favor of his grandson, Philippe, Count of Paris. Afraid that he may be imprisoned and executed, he quickly left Paris, and using a disguise, made his way to England. Two days later, the Second Republic was declared, once again ending the monarchy in France.
In England, Louis Philippe and his wife took up residence at Claremont, a country house in Surry. Claremont had a significant royal history. It had originally been purchased as a home for Princess Charlotte of Wales and her husband, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (later King Leopold I of the Belgians). After Charlotte’s death, Leopold retained ownership of the house until his death in 1865. However, after becoming King of the Belgians in 1831, he gave use of the estate to his niece, Queen Victoria. Victoria, in turn, loaned the house to Louis Philippe and Marie-Amelie, who were the parents-in-law of King Leopold (from his second marriage to their daughter, Louise Marie). It would later become the home of Queen Victoria’s son, Leopold, Duke of Albany, following his marriage in 1882.
King Louis Philippe died at Claremont on August 26, 1850. He was buried at St. Charles Borromeo Chapel in Weybridge. In 1876, ten years after his wife’s death, both of their remains reinterred at the Chapelle royale de Dreux in France.