New Publication – With His Face to the Foe


This book is a classic Spellmount title. It covers a story that has received little past attention but is a fascinating end note to the Napoleonic dynasty. It is a tale full of paradox and the author has told it well. Illustration is economic but includes a very interesting selection of bandw photographs in a plate section. The Napoleonic dynasty seemed to have been restored with a promise of new French Glory when Louis Napoleon, Napoleon III, came to power. The promise was to be largely unfulfilled with the disastrous adventure in Mexico ending in failure, fumbled attempts to create a new Empire and colonies, and with France itself being humbled during the Franco Prussian War. Emperor Napoleon III was forced to seek refuge in England. Befriended by Queen Victoria he and his family were to live the comfortable and frustrating life of a First Family out of power and exiled from their homeland. The Prince Imperial was to grow to manhood in that exile in the shadow of the Great Napoleon, craving military adventure and fulfilment. He was allowed to train in Britain as an officer but never likely to be allowed to serve in the British Army as a foreign Prince and Bonaparte. He was however allowed to join the British Army in South Africa for the Anglo-Zulu War. This has parallels with recent British history and current events in relation to Britain’s own Princes and the Royal Family. By tradition, the Royal Family has favoured service in the Royal Navy. This is not without risk, but the is a greatly reduced risk of capture and humiliation. Edward VIII, as Prince of Wales created difficulties when he wished to go to France during the 1914-18 War as a soldier. His wishes were accommodated but it was a constant pressure for the Commanders in the field to allow him some form of active service without allowing him to be exposed in the Front Line. During the Falklands War Prince Andrew as a serving RN Officer was allowed to join the expedition to liberate the Falklands from the Argentine invaders. He was exposed to severe risk as a helicopter pilot, one task being to decoy incoming missiles, but with almost no risk of being captured as an Argentine trophy. In 2007 as this book has been released, British Princes again present controversy. As a future King, Prince William has had to accept that his military service will not include active service with his contemporaries, but Prince Harry presents the same dilemma as that presented by Edward VIII, as Prince of Wales and The Prince Imperial Louis Bonaparte. Prince Harry has demonstrated a wish to make a career in the Army and to serve with his troops in the form of war that is a throw back to Empire and similar in several respects to the Anglo-Zulu Wars of the Nineteenth Century. The tale of the Prince Imperial is a cautionary tale for a modern British Prince.

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