Monday, August 8, 2022

Louis Cunningham -- all the right genes to play Louis XVI

@Tavistock Wood

One of the Daily Mail's diarist Richard Eden's most recent columns included a nugget about Louis Robert Dominic Marie Cunningham, an up-and-coming young actor. The latter appeared as Lord Corning in an episode of the popular Netflix series Bridgerton.   He has been cast as King Louis XVI of France in a new BBC series, Marie Antoinette.  

Eden noted that the 24-year-old actor is the grandson of Prince Charles of Luxembourg, who died of a heart attack in 1977 in Italy.   

The Ampleforth-educated (2016) actor has British and Luxembourg nationality.  He is the second of three sons of HRH Princess Charlotte Phyllis Anne Joelle Marie of Luxembourg and Mark Victor Cunningham.   He was born on March 9, 1998, at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth in London.  He has an older brother, Charles Douglas Donall Marie Cunningham (1996), and a younger brother, Donall Mark Philippe Marie Cunningham (2002)

 Harrogate-born Mark Victor Cunningham met Princess Charlotte at Oxford University where they both were students.  The Princess, who prefers to be known as Charlotte Cunningham. received a degree in modern languages. Mr. Cunninngham has worked for 30 years in corporate finance and private wealth management.  In 2010, he co-founded Cunningham Loewenstein Asset Management with Dora Loewenstein  (HSH Princess Maria Theodora Marjorie of zu Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, whose late father, Prince Rupert was the financial manager for the Rolling Stones.

In 2013,  the firm name was changed to Holbein Partners LLP.  In the summer of 2021, the firm was acquired by Tiedemann Constantia.  Holbein Partners is described as "an independent investment manager and wealth advisor for high-net-worth individuals, family offices, trusts, foundations, and endowments."

Mark Cunningham is also the chairman of the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity. 

Princess Charlotte and Mark Cunningham were married in a civil ceremony in Mouchy, France on June 26, 1993.  Their religious wedding took place in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on  September 18, 1993.  Grand Duke Jean gave away the bride.

Charlotte is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Turtle Key Arts founded  "in 1989 as a unique and ground-breaking accessible space, and accessibility for all continues to be a key philosophy of the company."

The Cunninghams have homes in London and Yorkshire.  Charlotte and Mark purchased Potter Hill Farm,  near the village of Coulton, North Yorkshire in April 2020 for £9,900,000.    

They also spend summers at the Dillon family home on Isleboro Island in Maine.

HRH Prince Charles Frédéric Louis Guillaume Marie of Luxembourg, Prince of Bourbon-Parma, Prince of Nassau (1927-1967) was the fifth of six children and the second son of HRH  Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg (1896-1985) and HRH Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma (1893-1970).  He was the heir presumptive to the Grand Ducal throne until the birth of Grand Duke Jean's eldest son, Henri, now Grand Duke, in 1955.   The present Grand Duke and Princess Charlotte are first cousins.

There was a bit of controversy when Prince Charles fell in love with Joan Douglas Dillon (1935.)  She was an American commoner, but politically and socially well-connected.  Her family was also very rich.   This would be Joan's second marriage.

In 1953, at age 18, Joan married James Brady Moseley,  a nephew of Nicholas F. Brady, who served as Secretary of the Treasury during the Reagan and Bush administrations.  Brady joined  Dillon. Read & Co in 1954, eventually rising to the position of chairman.  Joan was living in Paris where her father was the American Ambassador to France.  

She gave birth to a daughter Joan Dillon Moseley in 1954.  A year later the marriage was dissolved by divorce and in 1963, the marriage was annulled by the Roman Catholic church.   Moseley was Roman Catholic and Joan was Protestant. 

Joan's parents. Clarence and Phyllis Dillon announced her engagement to Prince Charles on February 10, 1967.   The wedding was scheduled to take place in early spring.   Six days after the engagement announcement, Grand Duke Jean issued a decree that gave dynastic status to Charles'  marriage.  His new wife would be styled as HRH Princess Joan of Luxembourg

The Roman Catholic wedding took place at the Church of St. Edward the Confessor in Guildford, England on March 1, 1967.  Grand Duke Jean and Clarence Dillon were witnesses to the ceremony, which was attended by close family relatives, including the bride's parents.  Grand Duchess Charlotte and Charles's four sisters. Elisabeth, Marie Adelaide, Marie Gabrielle and Alix.

Seven months after the wedding on September 15, 1967, Princess Joan gave birth to Charlotte in New York City.  The couple's second child, Prince Robert Louis François Marie was born on August 14, 1968, at Schloss Fischbach in Luxembourg.

Charlotte and her descendants are not in the line of succession to the Luxembourg throne as the succession law until 2011 limited succession to the male line descendants (approved marriages) of Grand Duke Wilhelm of Luxembourg's daughters.  He did not have any sons.  In 2011, a new gender equal succession law was passed, but the gender equal part applies only to Grand Duke Henri's descendants.  All other eligible male line descendants of Grand Duke Wilhelm remain in line.  This includes Henri's youngest brother, Prince Guillaume, and his sons, and his first cousin, Prince Robert, who is married to an American, Julie Ongaro, and they are the parents of three children, Charlotte, Alexandre, and Frederik.

A year after Prince Charles' death, Princess Joan married for the third time to Philippe François Armand Marie de Noailles, Duc de Mouchy (1922-2011).  Charlotte and Robert were sent to boarding school in England.

Joan, now 85, is styled as the Dowager Duchess de Mouchy. She has been described as "a larger-than-life lady, with an indefinable, cultured, mid-Atlantic accent."

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Charlotte is a first cousin of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg.  She has a younger brother, Prince Robert (1968) who is the head of Domaine Clarence Dillon, which "has the unique privilege of producing five rare and exceptional estate wines: two red wines and two white wines from First Growth, Château Haut-Brion and its sibling Château La Mission Haut-Brion."   Prince Robert succeeded his mother as president in 2008. 

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Louis's royal ancestry has many interesting lines.  He is a descendant of King Louis XIV of France, and Queen Maria I of Portugal.  His paternal grandfather's family tree includes Bourbon Parmas, Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Loewenstein-Wertheim, Austria, and Spain  ---probably all the way back to Edward III.  

Louis' great-great grandfather Clarence Dillon (1882-1979) was a financier who, according to Forbes magazine, was one of America's richest men with a fortune between $150-200 million. He attended Harvard and became an investment banker.   In 1912, he began working for a Wall Street firm, William A Read & Compay in Chicago. He moved to the New York office in 1914.  Two years, after the death of William Read,  Clarence Dillon bought a major interest in the firm and became head of the company.

The firm's name was changed to Dillon, Reed & Company in 1931.   Dillon was a Francophile and an oenophile.  He bought an apartment in Paris in 1929, where he spent time every year.  Chateau Hau-Brion was his favorite wine so he decided to buy the company for 2,300,000 francs in 1935.

Clarence and his wife, Anne McEldin Douglas had a son and daughter.  Their son was C. (Clarence)  Douglas Dillon (1909-2003), an American diplomat who served as Ambassador of France (1953-1957), Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (1958-1959), and Under Secretary of State (1959-1961), all during the Eisenhower Administration.   He was the Secretary of Treasury from 1961-1965, during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.

C. Douglas Dillon married Phyllis Chess Ellsworth (1910-1982)  in 1931.  Joan was their younger daughter.

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 He attended Harvard University where he earned a degree in American history and literature.  Before seeing service in the Pacific in the second world war, Clarence was the Vice President and Director of Dillon, Read & Company.  He returned to the firm after the war where he was named Chairman, where he was able to double the firm's investments by 1952.   

Dillon, Read & Company was sold to Barings in 1991 for $122 million.   The former family-owned investment firm was sold several times after Barings went bankrupt and was closed in 2007.

Louis Cunningham's American roots can be traced back to the 1600s in Maryland and Virginia.  This connection comes through Clarence Dillon's wife, Anne McEldin Douglass.   Through his maternal grandmother, the young actor has French, Scottish, English, German and Polish ancestry.

Clarence Dillon was born in San Antonio to Clarence Lapowski, the son of Samuel Lapowski, a Polish Jew who had immigrated to Texas after the American Civil War, and Berta Stenbock, whose Swedish father, Gustav Stenbock, a prospector searching for lead and silver in Colorado.

The Lapowski family was naturalized in 1891.   A decade later, they changed their surname to Dillon.  This was the anglicized surname of Michele Dylion, a Frenchman, whose daughter, Paulina married  Joshua Lapowski, the parents of Samuel Lapowski.   

The family also converted to Christianity.

Joan Dillon's father dropped one S from his middle name Douglass, becoming Clarence Douglas Dillon, known as C. Clarence Dillon.

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Andrea said...

March to September, 6 month, not 7.



Christina O. said...

Perfect casting!

Lionel M. said...


I usually love your articles but I fail to understand a few things in it. Why “probably all the way back to Edward III »? Well, Mr. Cunningham’ grandfather, Prince Charles of Luxembourg and Bourbon-Parma, was royal. Like every member of every royal family, he was descended from Edward III many times (more than 5 000 times, in his case). I don’t see why English royal ancestry should be particularly relevant for someone who is both a Bourbon and a member of the grand-ducal family of Luxembourg but, admitting it is, prince Charles‘s (and Mr. Cunninngham’s) most recent British monarch ancestor is George II (through his daughter Anne, princess of Orange and her own daughter Carolina of Orange-Nassau, princess of Nassau-Weilburg, a patrilineal ancestor of grand-duchess Charlotte).

As for the fact that Mr. Cunningham is descended from Louis XIV: well, with a Bourbon-Parma mother (though disguised as a Nassau), that is inevitable. Not only was prince Charles descended from the Sun King in the male line but, in all, he was descended from him 19 times. But Louis XIV or his great-great granddaughter Queen Maria I of Portugal are not particularly of note here. More interesting would be to point out that, through his grandfather, Mr. Cunningham is descended from Charles X, the last king of France who, as the comte d’Artois, was, of course, Louis XVI’s younger brother. Thus, Mr. Cunningham is going to play his own seven generations removed uncle.

That being said, he looks nothing like Louis XVI.

1971 said...

I wonder is this production in the same vein as the recent series Versailles?

Scandinavian said...

the guillotined, late Louis XVI does not have any descendant of his alive, after the demise of his daughter Marie Therese Charlotte, duchess of Angouleme.
Therefore, Louis XVI's closest collateral relatives are the direct descendants of his sibling, Charles of Artois. Of note here would be the fact that one such direct descendant was Artois' granddaughter, Louise of Artois-Berry-Bourbon (in her marriage, Duchess of Parma), whose son Robert de Bourbon the last reigning duke of Parma principality is the father of the mentioned Felix de Bourbon (prince-consort of Luxembourg), himself the father of the mentioned Charles de Bourbon a prince of Luxembourg and the maternal grandfather of this Louis Cunningham.