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Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orléans (April 13, 1747 – November 6, 1793), most commonly known as Philippe. Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orléans was the son of Louis Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres, and Louise Henriette de Bourbon. Philippe was a member of the House of Orléans, a cadet branch of the French royal family. His mother came from the House of Bourbon-Condé.

Philippe was born at the Château de Saint Cloud, one of the residences of the Duke of Orléans, five kilometers west of Paris. His older sister, born in 1745, died when she was six months old. His younger sister, Bathilde d’Orléans, was born in 1750.


Philippe’s first title, given to him at birth, was that of the Duke of Montpensier. After his grandfather’s death in 1752, Philippe inherited the title of Duke of Chartres. After his father’s death in 1785, Philippe became the Duke of Orléans, head of the House of Orléans, one of the wealthiest noble families in France. At his father’s death, Philippe became the Premier Prince du Sang, First Prince of the Blood, which put him in line for the succession to the throne immediately after the comte d’Artois, the youngest brother of Louis XV. He held the style, Son Altesse Sérénissime (S.A.S.), His Serene Highness.

Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans

On June 6, 1769, Louis Philippe married Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon at the chapel of the Palace of Versailles. She was the daughter of his cousin, Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duke of Penthièvre, one of the richest men in France.

Louise Henriette was born in Paris, the only daughter of Louis Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti and Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon and of Princess Maria Theresa Felicitas of Modena. At the death of her brother, Louis Alexandre de Bourbon-Penthièvre, prince de Lamballe, she became the wealthiest heiress in France prior to the French Revolution. Her father was the second son of François Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Conti known as le Grand Conti and his wife Marie Thérèse de Bourbon. Her paternal grandmother and her maternal grandfather being siblings, her parents were first cousins. Her mother was the oldest and favourite daughter of Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, herself the oldest of the surviving legitimised daughters of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, Louise Henriette was a Princess of the Blood (princesse du sang).In her youth she was known at court as Mademoiselle de Conti.

Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon

After his wife would became the richest woman in France upon the death of her father, Louis Philippe was able to play a political role in court equal to that of his great-grandfather Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who had been the Regent of France during the minority of Louis XV. Louise Marie Adélaïde brought to the already wealthy House of Orléans a considerable dowry of six million livres, an annual income of 240,000 livres (later increased to 400,000 livres), as well as lands, titles, residences and furniture. Unlike her husband, the Duchess of Orléans did not support the Revolution. She was a devout Catholic who supported keeping the monarchy in France, as well as following the orders of Pope Pius VI. This was the causes of one of the rifts of the couple.

During the first few months of their marriage, the couple appeared devoted to each other, but the Duke went back to the life of libertinage he had led before his marriage. The Duke was a well-known womanizer and, like several of his ancestors, such as Louis XIV and Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, had several illegitimate children.

During the summer of 1772, the Duke began his secret liaison with one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting, Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Albin, comtesse de Genlis, the niece of Madame de Montesson, the morganatic wife of Philippe’s father. Passionate at first, the liaison cooled within a few months and, by the spring of 1773, was reported to be “dead”. After the romantic affair was over, Madame de Genlis remained in the service of Marie-Adélaïde at the Palais-Royal, a trusted friend to both the Duke and the Duchess.

They both appreciated her intelligence and, in July 1779, she became the governess of the couple’s twin daughters (born in 1777). One of his most known lovers was Grace Elliot.

Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans

It was alleged that Lady Edward FitzGerald, born Stephanie Caroline Anne Syms, also known as Pamela, was a natural daughter of the Duke and the Countess of Genlis. He recognized a son he had with Marguerite Françoise Bouvier de la Mothe de Cépoy, comtesse de Buffon, Victor Leclerc de Buffon (September 6, 1792 – 20, April 1812), known as the chevalier de Saint-Paul and chevalier d’Orléans.

Military career

In 18th century France, it was very common for royal princes to receive high positions in the military. From a young age, Philippe d’Orléans displayed his interest in the Marine royale (French Royal Navy), from which he received three years of training. Due to his great relationship with Marine royale officials, the French army entrusted him with the command of a French fleet squadron called the Saint-Esprit in a battle against Great Britain at Ouessant during the American Revolutionary War in 1778.

When he did not obey the comte d’Orvilliers’s orders to close in on the rear British squadron, the British escaped, leading him to lose this battle. However, this gave a false impression of victory. The next day, the people of Paris greeted him with open arms, calling him a “hero of war.” When the news got out that the victory was false, Philippe could never recover. He withdrew from the navy and asked the army if they could give him a position, but it was denied.