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The elite marriage of Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte and Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg. Source: BUNTE TV / YouTube Screenshot.

Has A Napoleonic Dynasty Been Reborn In “Coincidental” Elite Marriage?

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Napoleon Bonaparte's London-based heir, who shares the historic general's famous name, is marrying the great-grand-daughter of Austria's last emperor, who is descended from Napoleon’s second wife, repeating a centuries-old union.

Thirty-two-year-old Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte is the sole heir to Emperor Napoleon I, the French statesman and military leader who emerged during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. Now, his descendant is set to marry Countess Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg, the 31 year-old Austrian and great-granddaughter of Karl I of Austria, even though they are distantly related.

Jean-Christophe “Napoleon Bonaparte” is the great-great-great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte I, emperor of France, and his wife to be, Countess Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg, is the great-granddaughter of Karl I. And what this means, is that when Bonaparte's heir, Jean-Christophe, a London-based private equity manager, marries the great-grand-daughter of Austria’s last emperor, they will be reenacting a two centuries-old marriage when in 1810 Napoleon united with the Archduchess of Austria bringing together the former Imperial House of France with the Austrian House of Hapsburg.

The elite marriage of Napoleon I and Archduchess Marie-Louise. (FDRMRZUSA / Public Domain)

Kissing Cousins Conspiring?

This forthcoming marriage was secured with a 40 carat diamond ring made with selected stones from Napoleon III's wife’s crown. Countess Olympia, who holds a degree in Political Science from Yale University, is the great-great-great niece of Napoleon's wife, Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, who married Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810.

Crown of Empress Eugénie, jewels from the crown were used to make the engagement ring for the elite marriage of Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte and Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg. (Mmxx / Public Domain)

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Jean-Christophe met his fiancé while spending a semester in Paris and while this impending marriage is said to be “love matched”, Napoleon’s marriage to Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria certainly was not. Rather, it was a carefully designed political strategy establishing a powerful military ally in his wars against Russia and Britain.

Commenting on this historical marriage, Jean-Christophe said the couple’s affair is a story “of love” rather than any sort of “nod to history”. Furthermore, he said that when he met Olympia he looked into her eyes and not into her family tree and only afterwards, said Jean-Christophe, that they were able to smile at this historical ‘coincidence’. But of course, not everyone is convinced.

A French Hero or Hoaxer?

According to The Times, followers of France’s Bonapartist movement see Jean-Christophe as some kind of “French hero”, the rightful head of the former Imperial House Of France at a time the country’s population has lost its faith in modern politicians. And reportedly, Jean-Christophe Bonaparte’s supporters are hoping that his marriage will propel him into the spotlight to play an ‘influential role’ in French public affairs. This whole concept is based on Jean-Christophe's grandfather Louis’s, Prince Napoléon, falling out with his son, Charles, for re-marrying without his permission and embracing republican principles, and in his will saying his ‘grandson’ would become head of the Imperial House.

Jean-Christophe Napoléon, Head of the House of Bonaparte. (Cyril-Napoléon / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Jean-Christophe said he felt “a deep commitment and sense of duty” to France, and being keen to “honor the legacy of his ancestors” he believes “his marriage is the ‘fruit’ of European reconciliation and construction which he says he believes in enormously”.

According to The Telegraph, however, in an April 2019 report, many French folk see Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon as a “pretender” to the throne of France and controversy surrounded the couple earlier this year when the dazzling $1.3 million (£1 million) 40-carat diamond ring, with stones taken from the crown of France’s last empress, Eugénie, was stolen from the countess’s bag. Astonishingly, the couple “just left it” in their unlocked Mercedes GL outside a Paris hotel, and said they had kept “an eye on it”, but minutes later it had vanished.

Are We Really All The Same?

Luckily the thief was caught and the ring returned, but what cannot be returned is ‘the message’ the couple delivered to the people of France, those people who Jean-Christophe so desperately wants to represent. The message was “we are so, so elite, and above you all” that we don’t even pretend old antique rings mean something to us anymore, they just don’t even register with “us”.

But aiming to present balanced reporting I should conclude in the couple’s defense that when the crime was committed they were “unloading shopping bags” into an elite Paris hotel, and we all know how stressful that can be. I mean with the children teasing the top-hatted doormen and all those damn private porters getting in the way trying to help.

So come on folks, maybe we should cut them some slack? Maybe this ‘type’ of person is just what the people of France need right now?

No. I didn’t think so. Last time, the revolution happened.

Top image: The elite marriage of Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte and Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg. Source: BUNTE TV / YouTube Screenshot.

By Ashley Cowie



Meeps's picture

The couple is only related by marriage. And neither are technically descended from Napoleon I or his second wife.

But other than that I think this is interesting. And hope for both, that it really is a love match - being an old romantic, myself :)

 They both share Nepoleon nose, and she also look a bit like Empress Eugénie..

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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