Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Grand Duchess Helen to marry a Bonaparte

January 27, 1900

The Marquise de Fontenoy also reports the contents of private letters she recently received from a "friend high in office at the court of Russia," regarding the announcement of the engagement between Prince Louis Bonaparte and Grand Duchess Helen Vladimorovna of Russia.
The Grand Duchess recently "jilted" Prince Max of Baden, and has since returned to Russian with her aunt, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her parents, Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna are now en route to Egypt.
The Marquise's friend ridicules the news of the engagement: "You may take it for certain that the Emperor would not help one of his officers at this moment to make a movement which might plunge France into anarchy and Europe into war. He is too much wedded to peace to allow any such risk, and although he has certain progressive ideas he never forgets that he is a Romanoff, steeped in the traditions and not a little influenced by the prejudices of his house. The second Nicholas, of course, differs a good deal from the first Emperor of that name. But the great-grandson of Nicholas I is not likely to forget or be allowed to forget that it was that monarchy who among the sovereigns of Europe declined, when recognizing Louis Napoleon as Napoleon III, to address him in the customary fashion as 'Mon frère, but adopted the chilling compromise as 'Mon cher ami,' which was one of the causes of the Crimean war. Depend upon it, Nicholas II is no more desirous than Nicholas I to call a political adventurer 'Mon frère', and the less desirous when that adventurer has been a subaltern office in his own service.
" In one word, the Russian Emperor thoroughly realizes that in permitting a marriage between Prince Louis Napoleon, who is a cavalry General in his army, and Grand Duchess Helen, he would be virtually striking a severe blow at the stability of the French republic by strengthening the position of a Prince who at any moment through his elder brother's death may find himself in the position of chief of the Bonapartist party and pretender to the imperial dignity in France. It would be an act of disloyalty to France on the part of her Russian ally. Were Louis Napoleon already on the throne of France it is just possible that Nicholas might countenance a matrimonial alliance of that kind, although I doubt it, seeing that not merely Nicholas I, but before him Alexander I of Russia had rejected with disdain the offer of any union with the house on Bonaparte. But it is quite certain that as long as he remains the ally of the French republic, he will never allow any member of his family to become the wife of one who is bound to be sooner or late in the position of an avowed pretender to the French throne, and who is regarded by the republic as its most generous foe."

In other words, Grand Duchess Helen's parents, after they return from their sojourn to the warmer climes, will need to find another eligible prince for their only daughter.

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