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Return of the King(s)

“Down with caviar, long live kebab”

The Bourbon heir to the French throne has thrown his support behind the gilets jaunes protests. On Facebook.

I’m mostly reeling from the revelation that Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, dit Louis XX (if you’re counting) has a Facebook page. Of course, his website, “Legitimacy” does announce him as a “modern prince,” which clearly entails courtly social media (Louis is also on Instagram). Protocol appears to prevent French royal pretenders from competing on a given platform, however: Henri d’Orléans, Count of Paris, dit Henri VII (website, “The Crown,” run by supporters), prefers Twitter.

There are clearly volumes to be written about the online profiles of aspiring monarchs, but I suppose the particular content of their support for grassroots social protest is also worth some discussion. It is, after all, somewhat dizzying to think that those who once lost their crowns (or heads) to mass discontent are now siding with the people.

Henri seems to be getting less press. He does express support for the gilets jaunes–to be fair, his claim to the crown passes through Louis-Phillippe who came to the throne in the 1830 July Revolution (aka the real Les Misérables), so there’s some precedent for revolts ending well for the House of Orléans (and 1848 landed them in exile, not at the guillotine). But his preference for order and state power are also unmistakable. His first foray on 24 November asserted

If the anger of the French People is legitimate, we must separate the wheat from the chaff, and the Praetorian Guard will not miss its target.

And as protests turned violent, on 1 December:

The Non Violence of Mahatma Gandhi combined with mass civil disobedience to liberate India from oppression and return its dignity. Example to meditate on to defend our civil rights as demanded by the G J .

Oh, the appropriation of Gandhi for royalist purposes. Also, be revolutionary, but not too much, because we want to rule over a stable and prosperous France (in which the Muslims know their place, according to a Nov. 5 retweet). His recommendation for appropriate rebel action? Start by filing communal cahiers de doléances (so far, so Ancien Régime).

Louis is more of a media darling and his weekend post is getting much more traction (HuffPost, Figaro, Parisien, etc.). He also deplores the turn to “shameful and sterile” violence, but less as a general aversion and more because the acts of a few extremists, risk, in this case, “favoring the cause of those who do not want to hear the cry of an entire people.” Cries the Bourbons are well known for heeding?

Yet, Louis’s embrace of the gilets jaunes is more enthusiastic than Henri’s:

I want to express my solidarity and my profound compassion for those who suffer, stripped of their resources, crushed by their burdens, humiliated and deprived of Hope, and who have no other means of expression but to rise as a single man to manifest their disillusion, their anguish, and their anger. These French are the silent majority who have stayed quiet for decades and whose existence has been forgotten by some.

It is essential to hear [the movement], essential to take account of its legitimate aspirations.

And, lest we forget how this whole French monarchy thing worked, he devotes the latter third of the post to “our Lady who is the true Queen of France,” invoking France’s role as “eldest daughter” of the Church.

Louis and Henri are not alone, of course, in attempting to harness the gilets jaunes to their own purposes: Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélanchon were also quick to take up their fluorescent banners. In an era where populism drives the rise of the newest iteration of European autocrats, who’s to say that monarchs won’t enjoy their own renaissance?

Let them eat kebab.


Note: all translations mine.

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