Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parents of Queen Louise-Marie

The father and mother of the first Belgian queen, Louise-Marie of Orléans. This little princess of the cadet branch of the House of Bourbon was born in exile in Palermo in 1812. A few years later, her family were allowed to return to France. In 1830, during the July Revolution, Louise-Marie's father ascended the throne, upon displacing the elder line of the French royal house. In 1832, Louise-Marie was married off (not all that happily) to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the first monarch of the new Kingdom of Belgium.
The "Citizen King" of the French, Louis-Philippe of Orléans (1773-1850). (His father, of course, was the infamous revolutionary, "Philippe Egalité," who cast the deciding vote sending his cousin, Louis XVI, to the guillotine). Apparently, Louise-Marie, despite her famed kindness and generosity, had a keen eye for the faults and failings of those around her (I've even seen her described as a "merciless observer"). Upon arriving in Belgium, she was rather too outspoken in her criticisms of her new subjects, and her father had to warn her to be more tactful and diplomatic.... Oddly enough, the Queen passed away only a few months after her (now deposed) father's death in exile.
Louis-Philippe's wife, Marie-Amélie of Naples. Her somewhat skeptical expression reminds me of portraits of her daughter. I think Louise-Marie strongly resembled her mother, too, in her piety and charity.

I once had a conservative, religious person look at me in horror when I mentioned that the first Queen Consort of the Belgians (and, therefore, the subsequent generations of the Belgian royal family) were descended from the Orléans. Some seem to act as though the entire Orléans line were painted with the brush of indelible guilt and infamy. Yet, the radical background of the family, the regicide of Philippe Egalité and Louis-Philippe's questionable taking of the throne simply cannot be blamed on later people like poor Louise-Marie! She was, by all accounts, a devout, upright woman, a loyal wife and mother, and a generous Queen. She was an innocent person! Also, I find her very interesting, as she seems to have combined a critical, realistic mind with a charitable heart (rare!)


MadMonarchist said...

Very interesting. I have been faced with that same attitude about the Orleans myself and I cannot go along with it, being descended from several "villains" myself. She seems to have made an effort to pass on the best of her heritage to her children. Of course I cannot help but refer to Carlota, one of the things that made her ultimate break with the French so painful was that she was for most of her life very proud of her French roots and said her heart always soared a little when she watched French soldiers on the march.

May said...

Somebody even made an analogy between the Orléans and the Cromwells, but this just doesn't work. The Orléans *were* part of the royal family- a different kettle of fish from the Cromwells altogether. Besides, most families have some bad moments in their past and, of course, as Catholics we believe that the *entire* human race is tainted by Original Sin!

That's fascinating about Carlota, thanks!

Lucy said...

Interesting that you point that out about the 'orleans' perception...I agree that she was a kind and pious woman, gentle in every way. Great post- nice to have you back;)

May said...

Thanks, Lucy!