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Louis-Philippe I (October 6, 1773 – August 26, 1850) was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 and the last king of France.

Louis-Philippe was born in the Palais Royal, the residence of the Orléans family in Paris, to Louis Philippe II, Duke of Chartres (Duke of Orléans, upon the death of his father Louis Philippe I), and Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, he was a Prince of the Blood, which entitled him the use of the style “Serene Highness”. His mother was an extremely wealthy heiress who was descended from Louis XIV of France through a legitimized line.


Louis Philippe was the eldest of three sons and a daughter, Antoine-Philippe, Duke of Montpensier, Françoise d’Orléans (died shortly after her birth) Adélaïde d’Orléans, and Louis-Charles, Count of Beaujolais a family that was to have erratic fortunes from the beginning of the French Revolution to the Bourbon Restoration.

Louis-Philippe struck up a lasting friendship with Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, and moved to England, where he remained from 1800 to 1815.

In 1808, Louis-Philippe proposed to Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom. His Catholicism and the opposition of her mother Queen Charlotte meant the Princess reluctantly declined the offer.

In 1809, Louis-Philippe married Princess Maria-Amalia of Naples and Sicily, daughter of King Ferdinand IV of Naples and Archduchess Maria-Carolina of Austria, the thirteenth child of Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Franz I. The ceremony was celebrated in Palermo November 25, 1809. The marriage was considered controversial, because she was the niece of Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria, while he was the son of Louis-Philippe II, Duke of Orléans who was considered to have played a part in the execution of her aunt.

Maria-Amalia, Duchess of Orléans with her son Ferdinand-Philippe d’Orléans

Maria-Amalia’s mother, Archduchess Maria-Carolina of Austria, was skeptical to the match for the same reason. She had been very close to her younger sister, Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria, and devastated by her execution, but she had given her consent after he had convinced her that he was determined to compensate for the mistakes of his father, and after having agreed to answer all her questions regarding his father.

In 1830, the July Revolution overthrew King Charles X of France and Navarre who abdicated in favour of his 10-year-old grandson, Henri, Duke of Bordeaux, and, naming Louis-Philippe Lieutenant général du royaume, charged him to announce to the popularly elected Chamber of Deputies his desire to have his grandson succeed him. Louis-Philippe did not do this, in order to increase his own chances of succession.

62391B8F-34C2-4048-88BA-479995CB0D8BLouis Philippe II d’Orléans (Father)

ACCD0076-9973-41F4-937E-B2304F68CC8ALouise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, Duchess of Orléans (Mother)

As a consequence, because the chamber was aware of Louis-Philippe’s liberal policies and of his popularity with the masses, they proclaimed Louis-Philippe, King, who for eleven days had been acting as the regent for his young cousin, as the new French king, Henri V. With his accession the House of Orléans displaced the senior branch of the House of Bourbon.

Charles X and his family, including his grandson, went into exile in Britain. The young ex-king, the Duke of Bordeaux, who, in exile, took the title of comte de Chambord, later became the pretender to the throne of France and was supported by the Legitimists.

Louis-Philippe was sworn in as King Louis-Philippe I on August 9, 1830. Upon his accession to the throne, Louis-Philippe assumed the title of King of the French – a title already adopted by Louis XVI in the short-lived Constitution of 1791. Linking the monarchy to a people instead of a territory (as the previous designation King of France and of Navarre) was aimed at undercutting the legitimist claims of Charles X and his family.

By an ordinance he signed on August 13, 1830, the new king defined the manner in which his children, as well as his “beloved” sister, would continue to bear the territorial designation “d’Orléans” and the arms of Orléans, declared that his eldest son, as Prince Royal (not Dauphin), would bear the title Duke of Orléans, that the younger sons would continue to have their previous titles, and that his sister and daughters would only be styled Princesses of Orléans, not of France.

In 1832, his daughter, Princess Louise-Marie, married the first ruler of Belgium, Leopold I, King of the Belgians. Their descendants include all subsequent Kings of the Belgians, as well as Empress Carlota of Mexico.

Louis-Philippe and Emperor Nicholas I of Russia

Emperor Nicholas I of Russia

Louis-Philippe’s ascension to the title of King of the French was seen as a betrayal by Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, and it ended their friendship.

In 1815, Grand Duke Nicholas arrived in France, where he stayed with the duc d’Orleans, who soon become one of his best friends, with the grand duke being impressed with duc’s personal warmth, intelligence, manners and grace. For Nicholas the worst sort of characters were nobility who supported liberalism, and when the duc d’Orleans become the king of the French as Louis Philippe I in the July revolution of 1830, Nicholas took this as a personal betrayal, believing his friend had gone over as he saw it to the dark side of revolution and liberalism.

Nicholas hated Louis-Philippe, the self-styled Le roi citoyen (“the Citizen King”) as a renegade nobleman and an “usurper,” and his foreign policy starting in 1830 was primarily anti-French, based upon reviving the coalition of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Britain to isolate France. Nicholas detested Louis-Philippe to the point that he refused to use his name, calling him merely “the usurper.”