The Twickenham Museum
People : Royals, Peers and Courtiers

Louis Philippe Duc d’Orléans
sometime King of the French
1773 - 1850

Sketch of Louis Philippe

Exile in Twickenham

Louis Philippe, Duke of Chartres, Duke of Orléans, and King of the French, was the son of Louis Philippe Joseph, 5th Duke of Orléans (later called Égalité), of the younger branch of the Bourbon royal family. Educated by Mlle de Genlis, Louis Philippe as a young man was an enthusiastic radical, and a member of the Jacobin Club. As a young divisional general in the Revolutionary Army, he fought under Dumouriez at the battles of Valmy, Jemappes, and Neerwinden, before leaving the army in disgust following the decision in Paris to guillotine Louis XVI. Louis Philippe’s father, to the distress of his sons, had voted in favour of the King’s execution (which did not save Égalité from the guillotine).

Louis Philippe fled from France but his two younger brothers were put in prison. For the next four years the young duke (his father being dead) wandered across Europe, at one time teaching geography in a Swiss school. On the release of his brothers from prison, he and they fled to the USA and then to Canada, where they met and made friends with the Duke of Kent. Crossing to England in 1800, the three Orléans princes made their peace with their Bourbon cousins, and settled in High Shot House in Crown Lane (now Crown Road) Twickenham. Here they lived fairly quietly for much of the next seven years, supported by Secret Service funds, and making friends locally with the Forbes family, the Innkeeper of the Crown, and with the Austrian Minister, then living in York House. The fatal illness of Louis Philippe’s brother Montpensier (he was buried in Westminster Abbey) and signs of illness in his youngest brother led Louis Philippe to leave for Malta in 1807 in search of a healthier climate. Young Beaujolais died in Malta in 1808, where he lies buried.

Leases Orleans House and becomes King of France
A flying visit to England brought Louis Philippe to the Pavilion, Hampton Court, for a few weeks, but he was soon off to the Mediterranean. He visited Sicily and involved himself in Spanish politics. In the meantime, Orl�ans had married the daughter of the King and Queen of Sicily. Marie Am�lie's mother was a sister of the murdered Marie Antoinette, and found Orl�ans a �dreadful name�, but Marie Am�lie was already twenty eight and knew her own mind. With the fall of Napoleon in 1814, Orl�ans and his growing family returned to France, only to be bundled out again on the return of Napoleon to France in March 1815. Louis and his family retired to �Old Twick�, which he fondly described at times as �dear quiet Twick�. This time, he leased Orleans House, staying there until 1817, and incidentally giving to the house the name by which it is known today. Returning to France, he settled down to restore the family fortunes and keep out of politics. But the reactionary rule of Charles X brought about a revolution in France in July 1830. Louis Philippe was persuaded to accept the Crown, to liberalise the Constitution, and to rule as King of the French under the tricolour flag.

Later visits

His reign lasted until 1848, when there was another Revolution and he returned to England. He had visited in 1844 and spent a day with Queen Victoria at Orleans House, but this time a home was offered to him at Claremont, Esher. Here he lived until his death on 26 August 1850. Before that day, there was one more visit. Bad drains at Claremont had driven him to stay for some weeks at the hotel on Richmond Hill. Walking one day in Twickenham, he was met by the former innkeeper of the “Crown”, who greeted him with the reminder that he (the innkeeper) had “kept the Crown”. The old King's response was “that is more than I did”. During the next 82 years, four generations of Louis Philippe's descendants at various times and places lived in Twickenham, or its neighbourhood.

Further reading:

T E B Howarth,”The Citizen King”,1975 edition
Malcolm Hay,”Prince in Captivity”, 1960
T H R Cashmore, High Shot House - the Story of a Twickenham Villa, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No 32, 1975
T H R Cashmore, The Orleans Family in Twickenham - 1800-1932, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper no 49, 1982
Joan Heath (translated by) “The De Broval Letters”, Research Memorandum, BOTHLS, April 1995

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