|Marlene A. Eilers Koenig collection|
HRH Prince Michel Marie Xavier Waldemar Georg Robert Karl Eymar of Bourbon-Parma, third of four children of the late Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margrethe of Denmark, died on July 7 at Neilly-sur-Seine, France. He was 92 years old.
Michel's father was the 19th child of Duke Roberto I of Bourbon Parma. Two of his full siblings were Empress Zita of Austria and Prince Felix, who married Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.
Prince Michel was born in Paris on March 4, 1926. He spent his childhood in Paris, but after the German invasion of France, he and his family fled to New York City. He attended a Jesuit school in Montreal.
At the age of 17, Prince Michel joined the U.S. Army and was part of a sabotage team that parachuted into Nazi-occupied France. He later was sent to Indochina to fight the Viet Minh. He parachuted into Vietnam on August28, 1945. Within hours he and five others were captured and held for eleven months.
There were several attempts to escape. The prisoners, who survived on a daily bowl of rice. Four of the six men were killed before France agreed to a ceasefire.
The Viet Minh held more than 12,000 French prisoners. Prince Michel was one of only 3000 prisoners to have survived the ordeal. He received the Legion of Honour, the British Military Cross and the Croix de guerre.
He returned to France to live where he became a race car driver and a businessman.
On June 9, 1951, Prince Michel married Princess Yolande de Broglie-Revel (1928-2014). The couple had five children: Princess Inés (1952-1981), Price Erik (1953), Princess Sybil (1954), Princess Victoire (1957-2001) and Prince Charles-Emmanuel (1961). He also has a daughter, Amelie (1977), by Laure Le Bourgeois
By the 1960s, the marriage was strained as Prince Michel began an affair with Princess Maria Pia of Italy, the wife of one of Michel's close friends, Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia. Maria Pia and her husband were the parents of a set of twin boys, born in1958. She became pregnant again during her affair with Michel. The second set of twins, Prince Serge and Princess Helene, were born on March 12, 1963.
Princess Yolande, a devout Catholic, would not agree to a divorce in 1999, although the couple legally separated in 1966. Prince Michel married Princess Maria Pia in Manalapan, Florida, in May 2003. Prince Michel and Princess Maria Pia had a home in Palm Beach, Florida, spending winter there for many years.