200th Anniversary of the Birth of Napoleon III at Farnborough

On 20th April 2008 there was a Tridentine Mass celebrated in Napoleon III's honour attended by members of the Imperial family followed by a wreath laying in the Crypt.

Prince Napoleon

The picture above shows HIH Prince Jean-Christophe Napoleon giving an address in front of the tomb of Napoleon III. The Prince is the great-great-great-grandson of Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon I's brother and King of Westphalia, and since neither Napoleon I nor Napoleon III's son Eugene, the Prince Imperial, left any living male heir, the line of succession is through the family of Jerome. The Prince is first cousin, four times removed, to Napoleon III.

Prince Imperial tombThe Abbey houses the tombs of Napoleon III, the Prince Imperial, and Empress Eugenie, and was established by the Empress following the death of her husband, after she decided that Chislehurst could not provide a suitable resting place and monument for her husband and son.

The Prince took the opportunity to show homage to his cousin the Prince Imperial. The strking photograph on the right shows him standing in front of the Prince Imperial's tomb. The photograph and the others on this page were taken by Lord James Findlay of Lochaber, and who has the copyright to them.

Before the service at Farnborough a group of members of the Napoleon family and followers of the Napoleon family paid a private visit to Camden Place in Chislehurst.

At the ceremony, the French Ambassador represented the French Government, the first time that they have been represented at what has always been regarded as a family and not a state matter. There have been suggestions that, following a relative reassessment of Napoleon III's contribution to the modernisation and transformation of the financial, rail, and other industries of 19th Century France, his remains may be returned to France. However there are many in France for whom this would be unaccceptable. The reputation of the last Emperor of France is still very poor, and it would create an unnecessary diversion today. It seems most unlikely that anything will happen soon.

The final picture below shows the Prince and his family following the Abbot and his assistants during the procession from the church to the Crypt.

Procession to the Crypt


Lord James Findlay himself has no connection with the Napoleon family, but has become the unofficial photographer at the Abbey.

Other Chislehurst Lives