King Louis I of Portugal, unlike the majority of his countrymen, was a blue eyed blond. He was the son of a German Prince, Ferdinand of Saxe Cobourg, who married the ruling Queen, Maria II de Gloria. Louis I wasn’t destined for the throne, but the death of his elder brother, the young King Pedro V, changed that. He had a rather uneventful reign.
Louis I was succeeded by his eldest son Carlos I. While he was the Crown Prince, Carlos married Princess Amelie of France, the eldest daughter of the Count of Paris. The wedding reception at the l’hotel Matignon in Paris, the home of the pretender to the throne, was ultimately what provoked the law of exile against the Count.
King Louis I married Maria Pia of Savoy, the daughter of Victor Emmanuel II. She was an eccentric without equal. My grandmother told me a story about how Queen Maria Pia delayed a solemn Te Deum at the cathedral of Lisbon by three hours, so that at the moment of her entry a ray of sunlight would pierce the rosace of the cathedral’s window and highlight her red hair. It is said that when she was a widow, and was given the Sintra Château as a residence, she spent her time scrawling “I am fucking bored” on the bue and white azulejos walls with crayons.
The wife of Carlos I, Amelie of France, Aunt Amelie for those of us who knew her, was as majestic as she was generous. Here, she is wearing grand Court dress, decorated with some of the most beautiful emerald and diamond jewelry of the Portuguese Crown. She held her Court with perfection.
King Carlos I, in time, acquired a hefty frame. He was a die-hard hunter as well as a great admirer of beautiful women. He was also a talented amateur painter, a spiritual man, and very charming. His sister-in-law, my grandmother, the Duchess of Guise, was profoundly attached to him.
King Carlos I and Queen Amelie had two sons. The Crown Prince, Louis-Philippe, named after his ancestor the King of France, was assassinated while still only an adolescent, along with his father, in a tragedy that soon provoked a revolution and the ultimate fall of the monarchy. Until her last day, Amelie could not forget having seen her husband and child killed before her own eyes.
The tragedy that claimed the lives of King Carlos and Crown Prince Louis-Philippe left only the younger son, Manuel. He survived the attack because his mother, Queen Amelie, threw a bouquet of flowers at the assassin, deflecting the bullet into Manuel’s arm. He rose to the throne at a young age, under the name of Manuel II, but wouldn’t last long. Soon a revolution ended their dynasty, and royalty altogether.