Antoine d’Oléans, the Duke of Montpensier, married Maria Louisa Fernanda of Bourbon, the Infanta of Spain, sister of Isabelle II. It was a marriage that provoked intrigue, plots, and revolution. One of their daughters, the Infanta Isabelle, married Philippe, the Count of Paris, head of the House of France. The Montpensiers, after decades of turmoil, ended up soft grandparents, as seen in this photograph. They are pictured with their granddaughter Amélie of France, the future Queen of Portugal, in a gondola of papier-mâché, created in the studio of a photographer.
The Princes of France were exiled under Napoleon III. However, when the War of 1870 broke out between Prussia and France, they wanted to fight for their country. Permission was denied. Robert d’Orléans, the Duke of Chartres, worked around this denial and enlisted under a nom de guerre. He called himself Robert the Strong, like our distant ancestor of the 9th century, Robert the Strong, the Count of Paris, who himself fought against the enemy.
After the death of the Count of Paris, his son, Philippe the Duke d’Orléans, became the head of the House of France and pretender to the throne. He received in the residence of the Princes of France, Stowe House, a condolence visit from the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII. There are strong ties between the French and English royal families.
My grandmother, Isabelle of France, was a natural born seductress, who possessed beauty, charm, and unparalleled charisma. She is only an adolescent in this picture, but the exceptional women she would become is already quite visible.
My grandfather, Jean d’Orléans, between his two sisters, Marie, the future Princess of Denmark, and Marguerite, the future Duchess of Magenta. The photograph was almost certainly taken by their father, the Duke of Chartres, an amateur photographer of great talent.