Indian lays claim to 'Duke of France' title

16th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

BHOPAL, India, April 15, 2007 (AFP) - Balthazar Napoleon de Bourbon III, a lawyer who lives in the heart of India, is so convinced he is the true heir to France's King Henri IV that he wants the title "Duke of France".

BHOPAL, India, April 15, 2007 (AFP) - Balthazar Napoleon de Bourbon III, a lawyer who lives in the heart of India, is so convinced he is the true heir to France's King Henri IV that he wants the title "Duke of France".

The family of the rotund 48-year-old landowner settled in Bhopal in 1775 and he has long promoted his lineage dating back to the rulers of France and Spain.

His house is even emblazoned with a brass sign that reads "House of Bourbon", set above a fleur-de-lis. The heraldic crest of the French monarchy also decorates his furniture, business cards and cuff-links.

"I have always been instilled with the idea that I belong to a noble and royal family," he told AFP in an interview.

But Balthazar has been galvanized in his search for recognition and a real title by the research of Prince Michael of Greece into a cousin of Henri IV.

Prince Michael's French book "Le Rajah Bourbon", published this year, confirmed for Balthazar what he says he knew all along -- he is the most likely surviving heir to the throne.

"The book says: 'Had it been a monarchy, you would have been the king'," Balthazar beams, before adding, "But I am well aware of the fact that there is no monarchy in France, that there is a democracy."

He admits to not speaking a word of French, to never even setting foot in the country.

Balthazar is however a Catholic, his ancestors built a fine church here and his children are called Frederic, Michelle and Adrien. He also harbours a strong desire "to go to Versailles castle".

"Whether they recognise me or not, I am a part of a big family. I am a fraction of a part of France," he insists.

"I have the same blood that Jean-Philippe (de Bourbon) had. A French and royal blood.

"If Jean-Philippe is in the direct line of succession, so I am."

According to "Le Rajah Bourbon", Jean-Philippe de Bourbon Navarre arrived in 1560 at the court of Emperor Akbar, the third ruler of India's Mughal dynasty. He was the son of Connetable de Bourbon, a cousin of Henri IV.

History relates that Jean-Philippe fled through Spain after killing a French nobleman, was kidnapped by pirates, shipwrecked off Egypt and captured by the Ethiopian army before escaping to Goa in southern India.

He found favour at Akbar's court, married the sister of one of the emperor's wives and moved from Agra to New Delhi. It was there that Jean-Philippe learnt that Henri IV had been crowned in France and that he himself was next in line.

Jean-Philippe gave up any claim to the throne and his descendants later settled in Bhopal.

The book and a visit by Prince Michael to Bhopal has emboldened Balthazar to seek recognition.

"Recognition means at least to give us any royal title, like 'Duke of France' or 'Duke of Bourbon'.

"The House of Bourbon would be entitled to give the title. It would be a kind of recognition of the sufferings of Jean-Philippe. It would be a recognition for my family who had migrated to India on compulsion."

But Balthazar seems to suffer something of an inferiority complex with respect to the European royals he imagines to be rich and powerful, and wants to make it clear he is not after their money.

"The urge for me is a family link. I am not claiming any riches in France. Don't be scared. I am just part of the family," he says.

"Economically, I am the weakest link in the Bourbon family. I have access to limited resources. There might be people who might be thinking I would try to unsettle them."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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