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

Early life

Louis Philippe was born in the Palais Royal, the residence of the Orléans family in Paris, to Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans and Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, who was the daughter of Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duke of Penthièvre and Princess Maria Teresa d’Este of Modena.

At the death of her brother, Louis Alexandre, Prince of Lamballe, Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon became the wealthiest heiress in France prior to the French Revolution. She was descended from Louis XIV of France through a legitimized line.

Louis Philippe I, King of the French

As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, Louis Philippe was a Prince of the Blood (Prince du sang), which entitled him the use of the style “Serene Highness“.

Louis Philippe was the eldest of three sons and a daughter, a family that was to have erratic fortunes from the beginning of the French Revolution to the Bourbon Restoration.

The elder branch of the House of Bourbon, to which the Kings of France belonged, deeply distrusted the intentions of the cadet Orléans branch, which would succeed to the throne of France should the senior branch die out. Louis Philippe’s father was exiled from the royal court, and the Orléans confined themselves to studies of the literature and sciences emerging from the Enlightenment.

As Louis Philippe III, Duke of Orléans, he distinguished himself commanding troops during the Revolutionary Wars, but broke with the Republic over its decision to execute King Louis XVI. He fled to Switzerland in 1793 after being connected with a plot to restore France’s monarchy. His father Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans (Philippe Égalité) fell under suspicion and was executed, and Louis Philippe remained in exile for 21 years until the Bourbon Restoration.

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 (born a Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz) meant the Princess reluctantly declined the offer.

HRH The Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom and Hanover

In 1809, Louis Philippe married Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, daughter of King Ferdinand IV-III of Naples and Sicily and Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria, the thirteenth child of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor Franz I

The ceremony was celebrated in Palermo November 25, 1809. The marriage was controversial because Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily’s mother, Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria, was a younger sister to Queen Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI.

HRH Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, Queen of the French

Louis Philippe’s father was considered to have a role in Marie Antoinette’s execution. Maria Carolina as the Queen of Naples was opposed to the match for this reason. She had been very close to her sister and devastated by her execution, but she had given her consent after Louis Philippe 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.

Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830)

After the abdication of Napoleon, Louis Philippe III, Duke of Orléans, returned to France during the reign of his fifth cousin Louis XVIII, at the time of the Bourbon Restoration. Louis Philippe had reconciled the Orléans family with Louis XVIII in exile, and was once more to be found in the elaborate royal court.

However, his resentment at the treatment of the Orléans family, the cadet branch of the House of Bourbon under the Ancien Régime, caused friction between him and Louis XVIII, and he openly sided with the liberal opposition.

Louis Philippe was on far friendlier terms with Louis XVIII’s brother and successor, Charles X, who acceded to the throne in 1824, and with whom he socialized. However, his opposition to the policies of Villèle and later of Jules de Polignac caused him to be viewed as a constant threat to the stability of Charles X’s government. This soon proved to be to his advantage.

King of the French (1830–1848)

1830, the July Revolution overthrew Charles X, who abdicated in favour of his son Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, who shortly abdicated in favour of his 10-year-old nephew, Henri, Duke of Bordeaux.

King Louis Philippe I of the French

Charles X named Louis Philippe Lieutenant général du royaume, and charged him to announce his desire to have his grandson succeed him to the popularly elected Chamber of Deputies. Louis Philippe did not do this, in order to increase his own chances of succession.

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 as the new French king, displacing the senior branch of the House of Bourbon. For the prior eleven days Louis Philippe had been acting as the regent for the young King Henri V his fifth cousin twice removed.

Maria Amalia, then Duchess of Orléans, with her son Ferdinand Philippe

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 of “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.

His ascent 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 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.

King Louis Philippe I of the French. The only French monarch to be photographed

On February 24, 1848, during the February 1848 Revolution, King Louis Philippe abdicated in favour of his nine-year-old grandson, Philippe, comte de Paris. If he had reigned he would have been King Philippe VII of France, although some sources list him as King Louis Philippe II of France.

Fearful of what had happened to the deposed Louis XVI, Louis Philippe quickly left Paris under disguise. Unlike Louis XVI, who attempted to escape France in extravagant transportation, he instead rode in an ordinary cab under the name of “Mr. Smith.” He fled to England and spent his final years incognito as the ‘Comte de Neuilly’.

The National Assembly of France initially planned to accept young Philippe as king, but the strong current of public opinion rejected that. On February 26 the Second Republic was proclaimed. Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was elected president on December 10, 1848; on December 2, 1851, he declared himself president for life and then Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.

Louis Philippe and his family remained in exile in Great Britain in Claremont, Surrey, though a plaque on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, claims that he spent some time there, possibly due to a friendship with the Marquess of Bristol, who lived nearby at Ickworth House.

The royal couple spent some time by the sea at St. Leonards and later at the Marquess’s home in Brighton. Louis Philippe died at Claremont on August 26, 1850. He was first buried at St. Charles Borromeo Chapel in Weybridge, Surrey. In 1876, his remains and those of his wife were taken to France and buried at the Chapelle royale de Dreux, the Orléans family necropolis his mother had built in 1816, and which he had enlarged and embellished after her death.