March 2

1848 was, as every schoolboy knows, the Year of Revolutions and the first monarch to lose his crown was Louis Philippe of France. The king, who had had the reputation of a lover of liberty, had in 1830 succeeded the last of the Bourbons to great acclaim but was by 1848 seen as a corrupt impediment to good government. He was persuaded in February of that year to abdicate in the hope that the French would accept his nephew as king, but the people demanded a Second Republic. Remembering what had happened to Louis XVI and his own father the Duke of Orleans when the First Republic sent them to the guillotine, Louis Philippe thought it best to go into exile. He travelled to the English Channel in the guise of “Mr. William Smith”. There he boarded a ferry and travelled to safety in Britain where he spent the last two years of his life living in obscurity as the ‘Comte de Neuilly’.

France continues to be a republic but members of the Orleans family still live in hope of the restoration of a monarchy. Jean, Count of Paris (b. 1965) is the current Orleans pretender.

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