Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Marie Antoinette and Mel Gibson

The link between these two illustrious figures is Father Jean-Marie Charles-Roux, formerly of Ely Place and now deceased. He seems to have had a good war too, complete with swords and glow-worms.

Here is an excerpt from, inevitably, his obituary in the Telegraph: "In conversation with even the humblest, Charles-Roux assumed a shared familiarity with the families of the Anjou claimant to the French throne, the King of Spain and members of other European royal families; and he championed the canonisation of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots and even Charles I of England who, he maintained, should be acknowledged as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

As communism tottered in Eastern Europe in 1989, the ambassadors of Poland and Hungary (possibly hedging their bets) were to be seen on their knees at a memorial service for the Empress Zita of Austria while Charles-Roux led them in prayers for the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire.

Jean-Marie Charles-Roux was born in Marseille into a French diplomatic family on December 12 1914. His first memories were of Rome, where his father was a member of the French embassy to the King of Italy. He and his sisters – Cyprienne, a talented pianist who became the Principessa del Drago, and Edmonde Defferre, a writer and Prix Goncourt judge who married a Socialist cabinet minister – found their parents loving but distant. But he relished the care of a Nanny Carter, who taught him English and made him recite collects from the 1662 Anglican Prayer Book before bedtime.

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