Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Louis XVII - "Last Words" from Philippe Delorme

I think we are bestowing justice on this child.
 Until now, his death was stolen, it was not admitted that he died in such a horrible way
Philippe Delorme, quoted in the Independent in 2000.

2015/16 "La biographie"

At the end of 2015 Philippe Delorme's biography of Louis XVII was published:

Philippe told Action Française that he felt there was now nothing was left to add on "the enigma of Louis XVII" . Rigorous research by Alcide de Beauchesne and others in the 19th century had long ago established that the son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette  died in the Temple, a sad victim of imprisonment and cruel treatment.  Professor Cassiman's genetic analysis of the heart preserved by Dr Pelletin, carried out on Delorme's own initiative in 2000, should have put a final end to debate.

More than two thousand works have been published on the affair, usually to "prove" that the little prince escaped his executioners. Each year more appear, written by the so-called "descendants" of Louis XVII!  From time to time the results of the DNA analysis are questioned.  For this reason  Delorme felt it necessary to  put together this "definitive" work of nearly five hundred pages: Vingt fois sur le métier, remettez votre ouvrage... It is the sum of a quarter of a century's research and covers not only the tragic life of Louis XVII, but also the era of the "faux dauphins" and the odyssey of the heart.

Have the arguments about the authenticity of relics - heart, hair - been profitable?

Cassiman has said,"DNA has no identity card".  To prove anything, the provenance of the heart had to  be independently established. It needed to be demonstrated that it was not the heart of Louis-Joseph. Beyond that, unlimited speculation and conjectures are pointless. Delorme favours Occam's razor - the simplest hypothesis that fits the known facts is the most reasonable.

Why is the question so enduring?  Is there a political agenda?

In the past the "survivalist"issue was a useful way of exacerbating divisions between different royalists factions.  Apart from this the "hidden king" is one of the archetypes of history. It appealed to elements within royalism which were disappointed by the Restoration.  Today it is kept alive mainly by Naundorff's descendants who have been allowed by the Dutch government to use the surname Bourbon.  The book contains a point-by-point refutation of the latest DNA analysis by Gérard Lucotte which suggests that Hugues de Bourbon is indeed descended from the Capetian line.

Louis XVII: la biographie  (Via Romana, December 2015): 


Philippe shared some of the content of his new book in a lecture posted on YouTube:

"Pour en finir avec Louis XVII", 27th January 2016 (on the various "faux-dauphins")
One of a series of "Wednesday" lectures organised by La Nouvelle Action Royaliste. 

2019 A Statue

Apparently this wasn't  to be quite the last word after all...

In 2019 Philippe Delorme's wife, the sculptress Catherine Cairn created a statue of the lost prince.  The work, entitled  "Louis XVII - enfance martyrisée", was intended to represent all children who have lost their lives through war and political violence; symbolically, there is a hole in the figure's chest where the heart should be.  In true 18th-century fashion the 5,000 euros needed to buy the statue was raised by subscription.  In April 2019 Delorme himself gave a fund-raising lecture in the parish rooms of St-Germain-l'Auxerrois.  The event took place at the invitation of the Orleanist Ordre de l'Etoile et de Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel and a historical society called the Institut d'Histoire des monarchies. This latter was founded in 1989; the president is former vice-admiral Patrice Vermeulen and it is based in Pantin, to the north-east of Paris, where Delorme himself lives.  Philippe's lecture, available on YouTube, was a reprise of Louis-Charles's life based on the first part of the biography:

In this initiative Delorme (or perhaps his wife) seems to have become much more explicitly associated than heretofore with the Orléanist cause.  Catherine Cairn had already created a statue of the late comte de Paris "Henri VII" and his wife for the château of Amboise.  The current comte, Jean, was given a privileged viewing of the new work.  

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that the statue was presented on 8th June 2019 to none other than the controversial historian of the War in the Vendée, Reynald Secher (who is director of the musée de la Chouannerie at Plouharnel near Quimper).  In an interview with Politique magazine Catherine Cairn, herself a native of Nantes, explicitly identifies the memory of Louis XVII, "le petit roi des Chouans", with the cause of the Counter-Revolution in the West.  Nonetheless it is a bit surprising to find Delorme, the great proponent of historical objectivity, endorsing Secher and his contentious notions of "genocide". Is all history of the French monarchy to become a fief of the Right?

Interview with Catherine Cairn, Politique Magazine, 15.04.19 

2020 An Anniversary

On 8th June Philippe appeared (very briefly) on France 2 in a news feature marking the 225th anniversary of Louis XVII's death.  He was filmed outside his wife's studio: 

Here is the video:


Website of Philippe Delorme:
YouTube Channel