Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Leopold acknowleges Victor Napoleon as a suitor for Clementine

February 22, 1905

Although King Leopold II continues to deny that his youngest daughter, Princess Clementine, is engaged to marry Prince Victor Napoleon, he has admitted publicly that the prince "is a suitor for the hand of the princess, and that the latter is in love with the prince."   The Marquise de Fontenoy bases her report on an article in the Etoile Belge, recognized as the official organ of the court and the king.  
King Leopold is "accustomed to make semi-official communications to his subjects."
The statement reads "We are authorized to add that the king is strongly opposed to the union,  and we have reason to believe that her royal highness the princess would not wish to act contrary to the wishes of her father in the matter."

It is has been suggested that "in this particular instance," the king is "acting sensibly," and he is "justified in his hostility to the projected matrimonial alliance."  The Marquise states that Prince Victor Napoleon "has been ecclesiastically married for years" to a former ballet dancer, Marie Biot, who is slightly older than the Prince, about "47 years of age - and is disposed to embonpoint."  
The Prince and the ballet dancer have several children together, although she and the children do not live with him in his house on Avenue Louise in Brussels, "but resident at an adjoining mansion, so that even the French noblemen who volunteer to act as his gentlemen-in-waiting do not come in contact with the ex-ballerina."

Parental consent is "regarded as indispensable to the validity of a marriage," no matter the age of the couples.  Prince Victor Napoleon may avail himself of the "plea that he neglected to obtain  his mother's sanction to declare his marriage to the stout and no longer comely mother of his children as null and void."
Morganatic marriages are not recognized in Belgium nor in France, "no matter what the difference of rank between the contracting parties, or else it is not marriage at all."
Thus, King Leopold "cannot be blamed for objecting" to Clementine "marrying a man with entanglements, such as Prince Victor's actress wife and her children."  Leopold may also be "prompted by political considerations," and he does not want to offend France by agreeing to a marriage between his daughter and Prince Victor, who has been "banished by the French government."

Victor Napoleon's "previous matrimonial venture" is reason enough to give Leopold "good grounds for his hostility to the projected match."

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