Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza

Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza, Countess of Paris (Isabelle Marie Amélie Louise Victoire Thérèse Jeanne; Eu, Seine-Maritime, 13 August 1911 – Paris, 5 July 2003), was a French historical author and consort of the Orléanist pretender, Henri, Count of Paris.

Princess Isabelle
Countess of Paris
Comtesse de Paris 1995.jpg
Consort of the Head of the House of Orléans
Tenure25 August 1940 - 19 June 1999
PredecessorIsabelle of Orléans
SuccessorMicaëla Cousiño Quiñones de León
Born13 August 1911
Château d'Eu, Eu, France
Died5 July 2003(2003-07-05) (aged 91)
Paris, France
Prince Henri, Count of Paris
(m. 1931; died 1999)
Full name
Isabelle Marie Amélie Louise Victoire Thérèse Jeanne
FatherPedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará
MotherCountess Elisabeth Dobrzensky of Dobrzenicz
ReligionRoman Catholicism


The eldest daughter of Dom Pedro de Alcântara of Orléans-Braganza, Prince of Grão-Pará, sometime heir to the throne of the Empire of Brazil (1875–1940) and of his wife, Countess Elisabeth Dobrzensky of Dobrzenicz (1875–1951), Isabelle was born in a pavilion of the Château d'Eu in Normandy.[1] She was christened as namesake of her paternal grandmother, Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, elder daughter and heir of the deposed Emperor Pedro II of Brazil.

In 1891 Dom Pedro de Alcântara became Prince Imperial of Brazil to the royalists upon the death of the emperor in exile, his mother having become the claimant. In 1908 he married a Bohemian noblewoman in the presence of his parents, although his mother withheld dynastic approval as head of the imperial family in exile. Therefore, Dom Pedro renounced the succession rights of himself and his future descendants to the abolished Brazilian throne.[2] By agreement with the head of the House of Orléans, to which he belonged paternally, he and his issue continued to use the title Prince/ss of Orléans-Braganza.[2]

After the deaths of her maternal grandparents, Isabelle's parents moved from the Pavillon des Ministres on the castle grounds into the main building of the Chateau d'Eu, spending winter months in a town house in Boulogne-sur-Seine. In 1924, her father's cousin, Prince Adam Czartoryski, placed at the family's disposal apartments in the palatial Hotel Lambert on the Île Saint-Louis, where Isabelle and her siblings undertook studies.[3] The family traveled extensively, however. Much of Isabelle's early youth was spent on visits to her maternal relatives, at their large estate at Chotěboř, Czechoslovakia, at Attersee in Austria, and at Goluchow in Poland. With her father, Isabelle visited Naples, Constantinople, Rhodes, Smyrna, Lebanon, Syria, Cairo, Palestine and Jerusalem.[3]

In 1920 Brazil lifted the law of banishment against its former dynasty and invited them to bring home the remains of Pedro II, although Isabelle's grandfather the Count d'Eu died at sea during the voyage. But after annual visits over the next decade, her parents decided to re-patriate their family to Petropolis permanently, where Isabelle attended day school at Notre-Dame-de-Sion while the family took up residence at the old imperial Grão Pará Palace.[3] Until then, Isabelle was privately educated by a series of governesses and tutors.

Marriage and ChildrenEdit

Isabelle, The Countess of Paris (1936)

Isabelle was related to both parents of her future husband, and first met the young Prince Henri d'Orleans in 1920 at the home of the Duchess of Chartres. In the summer of 1923 he was a guest at her parents' home at the Chateau d'Eu, at which time Isabelle, aged 12, resolved that she would one day marry him. But he took no apparent notice of her at the wedding of his sister Anne to the Duke of Aosta at Naples in 1927. During a visit to his parents home, the Manoir d'Anjou in Brussels, over Easter in 1928, Prince Henri d'Orleans began to show interest in Isabelle, and still more at a family reunion in July 1929.[3]

Henri proposed to Isabelle on 10 August 1930 while taking part in a hunt at Count Dobržensky's Chotěboř home. The couple kept their engagement a secret until a family gathering at Attersee later that summer, but were obliged by the Duke of Guise to wait until Henri finished his studies at Louvain University before the betrothal was officially announced 28 December 1930.[3]

On 8 April 1931, at the Cathedral of Palermo, Sicily, Isabelle married her third cousin Henri, Count of Paris (1908–1999).[4][5][6] Isabelle was 19, while Henri was 21.[4] The wedding was held in Sicily, since the law of banishment against the heirs of France's former dynasties had not yet been abrogated.[5] The two families selected Palermo because Isabelle's family possessed a palace there, which had been the location of three earlier royal weddings.[5]

The wedding gave rise to several royalist demonstrations, and the road leading to the cathedral was lined with hundreds of visitors from France who viewed Henri as the rightful heir to the French throne.[6] He was greeted with such cries as "Vive le roi, Vive la France" along with other monarchist cries and songs.[6] These supporters were joined by members of the bride and groom's families, along with representatives of other royal dynasties.[6]

He became pretender to the throne of France from 1940 onwards.

In 1947, Henri and Isabel's family took up residence at the Quinta do Anjinho, an estate in Sintra, on the Portuguese Riviera.[7]

They had eleven children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Princess Isabelle Marie Laure Victoire 8 April 1932 married Friedrich Karl, Count of Schönborn-Buchheim.
Prince Henri Philippe Pierre Marie 14 June 1933 21 January 2019 married Duchess Marie Thérèse of Württemberg.
Princess Hélène Astrid Léopoldine Marie[8] 17 September 1934[8] married Count Evrard de Limburg-Stirum.
Prince François Gaston Michel Marie, Duke of Orléans 15 August 1935 11 October 1960 Died fighting for France in Algeria.
Princess Anne Marguerite Brigitte Marie 4 December 1938[4] married Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria.
Princess Diane Françoise Maria da Gloria 24 March 1940 married Carl, Duke of Württemberg.
Prince Michel Joseph Benoît Marie 25 June 1941 married Béatrice Pasquier de Franclieu.
Prince Jacques Jean Yaroslaw Marie, Duke of Orléans 25 June 1941 married Gersende de Sabran-Pontevès.
Princess Claude Marie Agnès Catherine 11 December 1943 married Prince Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta.
Princess Jeanne de Chantal Alice Clothilde Marie 9 January 1946 married (Baron) François Xavier de Sambucy de Sorgue.
Prince Thibaut Louis Denis Humbert 20 January 1948 23 March 1983 married Marion Mercedes Gordon-Orr.

Princess Isabelle, called Madame, and her husband used the French Royal coat of arms. She survived her late husband by four years.

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 13 August 1911 – 8 April 1931: Her Royal Highness Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza
  • 8 April 1931 – 5 July 2003: Her Royal Highness The Countess of Paris




  1. ^ Enache, Nicolas. La Descendance de Marie-Thérèse de Habsburg. ICC, Paris, 1996. p. 71. French. ISBN 2-908003-04-X.
  2. ^ a b de Montjouvent, Philippe. Le Comte de Paris et sa Descendance. Editions du Chaney, 1998, Charenton, France. pp. 148–152. French. ISBN 2-913211-00-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e de Montjouvent, Philippe. Le Comte de Paris et sa Descendance. Editions du Chaney, 1998, Charenton, France. pp. 49–59. French. ISBN 2-913211-00-3.
  4. ^ a b c "Countess Has Daughter", The New York Times, Brussels, 5 December 1938
  5. ^ a b c Cortesi, Arnaldo (8 April 1931), "Royal Cousins Wed in Palermo Today", The New York Times, Rome
  6. ^ a b c d Cortesi, Arnaldo (9 April 1931), "Legitimists Cheer at Royal Wedding", The New York Times, Palermo
  7. ^ Valynseele, Joseph (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe (in French). France: Saintard de la Rochelle. pp. 179, 186–187, 198, 201, 204, 207–209, 212.
  8. ^ a b "Princess Is Christened", The New York Times, Brussels, 16 October 1934