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Still British

Still British

05 Feb 2013 BY Dominique's Villas

A French plan to recapture the remains of their Emperor Napoléon from the British seems to have foundered in a sea of indifference, much to the frustration of Christian Estrosi, the Secretary of State for overseas territories, who wants them returned to France.

This is not Napoléon Bonaparte, who already lies majestically in state at Les Invalides in Paris after having been brought back from Saint Helena, but Napoleon III, whose contribution to military campaigns would have shamed his uncle. Louis Bonaparte suffered a humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, including the capture of Paris and the loss until 1918 of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. 

Despite developing the railways and promoting the steam engine, Napoleon III was largely disowned by his countrymen and retired to England where he was given asylum by Queen Victoria. Following the Emperor's death in 1873, Louis’s son Eugène, the Prince Imperial, donned British uniform and was killed in the Zulu Wars. His wife Empress Eugénie founded a monastery in 1888 to honour their memory and the emperor’s body still lies in the crypt of St Michael's Abbey at Farnborough.

The monks have no intention of parting with their most famous inhabitant and when pressed on the subject, a spokesman for the Elysée Palace said it was not really a political priority.