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VIVE LE ROI, Philippe VIII, Duc d'Orléans

Philippe, Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - Wood Norton.
Rowland Ward’s clients included some of the wealthiest and most famous men. One of their most loyal client was Prince Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, claimant to the throne of France from 1894 to 1926.
If the revolution had not interrupted his trajectory, he would have become King by ‘the grace of God’. At least this is what Philippe believed himself.
Forced into exile and heir to the immense Orléans fortune, the Duc d’Orléans played many parts in this melodrama; in turn British soldier, patriot, adventurer, intrepid big-game hunter, explorer, collector, pretender and lover, he was indeed a dashing personality.
Philippe VIII, Duc d'Orléans.
From early childhood, Philippe had a keen interest in natural history that would eventually take him around the world. Distant adventures and hunting expeditions provided a worthy exercise in distraction from his suffering and the unbearable pain of being in exile. His interest in the sport varied between traditional game-shooting at home and abroad to indubitably more dangerous and challenging big-game hunting around the globe. Philippe traveled the world, from African jungles to polar seas, in search of zoological specimens. Stalked tigers in the Nepal terai, tracked game through the African savanna and cruised the Arctic waters in pursuit of the polar bear.
The trophies that he brought back from the hunts adorned his homes in England, and his first menagerie was set up at York House. As the collections grew, it required more space and he established a ‘private’ museum, first at Wood Norton in 1907; following the sale of the property in 1912, transferred, complete with reconstruction of the building, to the Manoir d'Anjou near Brussels; and finally, on his death bequeathed to the French Nation and installed in Paris.
Philippe, Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - York House, 1902.
Marco Polo mouflon in the claws of a snow leopard from Tibet. - York House, 1902.
As it was customary to employ the services of a professional taxidermist, Rowland Ward, whose record stood for high-quality work, was entrusted with the job of modelling and arranging over 2000 specimens to be installed in the Duc d’Orléans’ museum. It was said Philippe, Duc d’Orléans amassed the largest accumulation of hunting trophies ever bagged by ‘one man’.

Louis Philippe Robert, Duc d'Orléans

Louis Philippe Robert, Duc d'Orléans was born on 6 February 1869, at York House, the son of Philippe, Count of Paris. His family lived in England from the abdication and banishment of his great-grandfather Louis Philippe, King of the French, in 1848; in 1871, following the fall of the Second French Empire, Philippe returned with his parents to France. Educated initially by tutors at Château d'Eu , he later attended a municipal college at Eu, and in 1882 entered the Collège of St. Stanislas de Paris. In June 1886 his family was once again exiled and they returned to England, where he entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, on the nomination of Queen Victoria in February 1887, completing his training there having developed an abiding interest in geography, topography, and the natural sciences. He was attached for service to the King's Royal Rifle Corps which was then serving in India. He was known to monarchists as Philippe VIII, and became pretender to the throne upon his father's death, September 8, 1894. Philippe died of pneumonia at the Palais d'Orléans, Palermo, in 1926.

Le Prince Gamelle

Prince Philippe, Duc d'Orléans at the age of 20.
A particularly political act, and one that pins down Philippe’s personality, was a thoughtless attempt to enter France in order to claim his right to serve in the French army. When he arrives, he is arrested and confined. Prince Philippe’s brief but memorable stint in jail became an international news story in 1890.
After service as a British soldier in India, Prince Philippe resided at Lausanne, in Switzerland, where he attended a course in military theory. On 6 February 1890, having reached the age at which Frenchmen were called upon for mandatory military service, Philippe set out from Lausanne, determined to brave the law of exile by offering himself as a recruit in the French army. No doubt he thought it was necessary that he should announce himself to his countrymen. He proceeded to Paris and demanded to be inscribed on the list of conscripts under the Military Law. Arrested on the day of his arrival, under the provisions of the law exiling the chiefs of the house that had formerly reigned over France, and their heirs, he was sentenced to a term of two years' imprisonment in the great penitentiary of Clairvaux. During the hearing, Prince Philippe declined the assistance of counsel and defended himself in a short and manly speech, repudiating politics, and claiming, he wanted only to be like his fellows Frenchmen and to serve his country.
“ I come to France to serve in the army of my country as a common soldier. I have nothing to do with politics. That concerns my father,… I love my country. Is that a fault ? ”
Ah! the charming simplicity of the young man, who gained by his action nothing but a nickname, that of “Prince Gamelle”.
Le premier conscrit de France aka "Prince Gamelle" aka Philippe d'Orléans.
Prince Philippe’s little escapade took the media by storm. Royalists praised ‘le premier conscrit de France’ for obeying a patriotic inspiration, while the critics were divided in their opinion; some declared him to be ‘impetuous and undisciplined’, others ridiculed his act into a childish prank.
Prince Gamelle’s partisans hoped they could reap political benefits by taking advantage of the young prince’s imprisonment. Propaganda activities were at once stepped up, keeping the royal fans busy with saint-making and weaving a crown for an emerging hero or martyr. For the next months, lithographed portraits and photo cards with accompanying statements, were distributed throughout France. During the short period he spent in prison, the royalist newspaper, Le Gaulois seized every opportunity to praise the Prince. It published a daily account of his confinement, his acts and gestures, and his “words”.
In due course of time, this prisoner had become a somewhat embarrassing political subject. After four months of detention, the President of the Republic pardoned the young man and he was courteously conducted to the Swiss frontier.

The Prisoner of Clairvaux

Until the official minds were made up as to what to do with Prince Philippe, he was sent to prison at Clairvaux. There he occupied a comfortable 3-room apartment, was permitted to have visitors, brought in his trusted valet-de-chambre and got sumptuous meals to eat, prepared by restaurateur «l’Hôtel Saint-Bernard». He was allowed to talk freely to journalists and give interviews, delivering words intended for posterity, such as :
“Prison is less cruel than exile, for this prison is still the soil of France!”.
"Prince Gamelle" — Prison is less cruel than exile, for this prison is still the soil of France!
Despite his sweet cozy confinement, the handsome Philippe, a great traveler and hunter; frustrated with the monotonous prison regime and the lack of outdoor recreation, and female companionship, began to get bored. It can be said of Prince Philippe that in prison he was an indolent, testy young fellow who cared more for a good dinner than an entertaining book. Observations made, in a good-natured bantering way, and noted down by the prison guard, a brave and benevolent man, who had been assigned to watch over him, attest to this: He lingered in bed, had breakfast, and proceeded to see what the newspapers had to say about him; he had fallen to the habit of intoxication, he smoked big cigars and drank fine liquor, and, as a consequence, he appeared frequently flushed.
Philippe, Duc d'Orléans imprisoned at Clairvaux in 1890.
At the prison library he preferred reading feuilletons or detective fiction over Balzac. Whilst, the royal faithfuls at Le Gaulois reported that the Prince devoted all his time to profound study of history and political economy. This bit of news exited Calla, a leading light of the Jeunesse Royaliste, to promptly bring the prisoner, in person, a pile of military text books, sold off later in London by Philippe’s devoted valet.
In the afternoon, while continuing to abuse drink, the Prince, when not receiving visitors, kept busy with the account of a hunting trip to Nepal, whose valet-de-chambre wrote out for a book. With this model servant, he played cards and dominoes, and for distraction he liked blowing the French horn, no doubt to evoke the excitement of the chase of deer.
Beyond animated charm and blue-eyed blonde good looks, Philippe was rather given to making manifestations, to draw attention to his name and cause, but showed little trace of political in sight or tact. By temperament and conduct, Philippe was quite the opposite of his political-minded and eminently well-behaved father, Comte de Paris; or for that matter, his most prudent and saving great-grandfather, King Louis Philippe.
Yet for all his flaws, his escapade was quixotic and earned him the reputation of an adventurous lad that so easily captures the imagination of the public. His name sent through Europe and the world suddenly made him a living personage. But, alas ! this popularity was short-lived, and the Duc d'Orléans soon receded into the oblivion of exile.
The royalists were eager to believe that the Republic was in terminal decline, but nothing brought back France’s monarchical tradition. His exile would last the remaining years of his life. Obstinately refusing to renounce his claim to the throne of France, Philippe clung to the illusion of regal life at his little court in England.
“Saint Hubert” is a portrait of the Duc d'Orléans kneeling before a stag with 4-point antlers and a luminous halo. He holds a lance in one hand, and a bugle in the other. He is depicted wearing a velvet tunic and a mantle, and the fleur-de-lys of France is depicted, this time upon his cap.

Wood Norton

Wood Norton in Evesham, Worcestershire, England.
Wood Norton was at one time the home of Duc d'Orléans, an elegant mansion built of red brick with stone facings, situated in the shelter of the wood, in the Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire, where the ceremony and traditions of the Court of France, all its dignities and splendors, were observed in grand style.
Its external appearance, little more than an average English manor house, belied the grandeur that marked the building’s interior. Inside it was luxuriously equipped as befitting an adobe for a future king with splendidly decorated rooms and marvelous objects d’art. Reminders of the glories of the ancien régime; family portraits by old masters, heirlooms and relics representing centuries of the history of the royal house of France.
Philippe spent a great deal of money in enlarging and beautifying the mansion and its dependencies. The property was originally a mere hunting lodge, belonging to the Duc d'Aumale, bequeathed to his grandnephew, Duc d'Orleans, upon his death in 1897. Its woods and coverts always replete with game afforded splendid sport.
Hunting Party: Philippe, Duc d'Orléans with his advisers and members of the Service d'honneur.

Wood Norton - Hunting Museum

Portrait of Duc d'Orléans with dead Somali lion - oil on canvas by Heywood Hardy.
One of the most interesting features of Wood Norton was the Duc d’Orléans’ ‘private’ museum, a purpose-built annex, entirely devoted to hunting trophies obtained by this royal sportsman on his various expeditions, and contained many triumphs of the taxidermist's art.
When not hunting or traveling, Philippe spent a great deal of time into drafting his ambitious project, setting the stage and the storyline for his menagerie. A narrative that celebrated his adventurous life and passion for nature, close encounters with the ferocious wild beasts and mastery over danger, derived from his own lived experiences. As the halls of his Wood Norton hunting museum attest, this passion, led him to embark upon many hunting expeditions in pursuit of more specimens.
The duke had begun his hunting experiences with tigers as early as 1888 in India and Tibet, and in 1892 he hunted elephants, rhinoceroses, and lions in Somali. The young Prince was just nineteen years of age when he joined the King's Royal Rifles in India and waged war against the great wild beast of Nepal and the Himalayas. He killed some half-a-dozen tigers, besides a valuable collection of birds, crocodiles and cobras, a good bag was secured of about 2442 animals; and he had some narrow escapes.
Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - Wood Norton. Photo: C. Vandyck (London)
Most noteworthy is the tiger-elephant group, a reconstruction of an incident in India when a wounded tiger sprang onto the elephant on which the Duc d'Orléans was riding, broke his rifle and very nearly ended his life; the whole of which was mounted by Rowland Ward, according to the Duc's notes, under the royal owner's direction.
Many animals were arranged in glass-enclosed habitat dioramas, often in dramatic pose, such as a Marco Polo mouflon in the claws of a snow leopard from Tibet. Further the Himalayan bear, the Tibetan antelope, the buffalo of Assam and nearly all other horn-bearers of this region were widely represented. On the ceiling, crocodiles, pythons, feline skins and birds are suspended.
Other displays exhibit numerous trophies, associated with various other regions of his travels, Caucasian Turs, Alaskan bear, and chamois from the Carpathians. Animals from the Carpathians and Tyrol arranged side by side, as well as ibexes and a great series of birds, otters and flamingos, which formed a special showcase of Andalusia.
Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - Wood Norton. Photo: C. Vandyck (London)
Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - Wood Norton. Photo: C. Vandyck (London)
Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - Wood Norton. Photo: C. Vandyck (London)
The attraction of scientific reputation by naming rare specimens or obtaining such of record in size added a further element to the ambition of the hunter-collector. From 1892 to 1893, the Duc d’Orléans undertook a journey to Somaliland - a big game hunter's paradise, with diversity and abundance of wildlife. Here he discovered previously unreported species of elephant, distinguished from the African elephant by the shape of the ears, and which R. Lydekker named 'Elephas Africanus Orleansi' in honour of the discoverer; the mounted head of the type-specimen became a prominent feature of his museum.
Duc d'Orléans' Hunting Museum - Wood Norton. Photo: C. Vandyck (London)
Other glass-enclosed depictions of natural scenes held groups of animals and birds, in particular, dramatic groups showing animals in suspended animation, such as two lions in a duel to death, and a lioness that has stricken down a Grévy’s zebra.
Dramatic groups by Rowland Ward - Specimens collected by Duc d'Orléans in 1892.
A group of five polar bears amid artificial ice seem to lead a more tranquil existence against a painted background of a landscape that resembles parts of the mysterious polar regions. The Polar bear group, displayed in their illusory habitat, marked the first diorama that sought to add scientific realism to the artistic output of the expedition, highlighting effectively the goals and aspirations of the taxidermist and the hunter-collector.
Polar Bear group mounted by Rowland Ward, 1909.

The Duc d’Orléans Trophies at Antwerp 1907

Polar bear at Exposition Internationale de Chasse et de Pêche, Anvers, 1907.
Some of the trophies obtained on the Duc d’Orléans’ various expeditions to the Arctic were first shown at the Exposition Internationale de Chasse et de Pêche at Antwerp in 1907, and consisted of a fine polar bear, mounted outstretched on a platform of imitation ice, in a position these bears assume when watching a breathing hole in order to capture a seal; a number of seals, walrus, and heads of polar and brown bear and musk ox, a fine collection of mounted Arctic birds, with nests and eggs, including the rare red type of the greater black-backed and glaucous gulls. They were much admired, and for them the Duc d’Orléans was awarded a diploma.
Trophies obtained by the duke on various other expeditions included heads and skins of a lion, black and white rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, wart-hog, sable antelope, greater and lesser kudu, Waller’s gazelle, Swayne’s hartebeest, tiger, leopard, Kashmir bear, Tibet antelope, ibex, Alaskan bear, caribou, wapiti, and wild sheep.
Bear autopsy (A travers la banquise : du Spitzberg au cap).


Walrus Hoisted on to the Ice (Greenland Ice bank).
An interesting reminder of the Duc d’Orlėans’ travels was a faithful replica of the his cabin on board the Belgica, furnished and stowed in precisely the same fashion complete with scientific instruments of observations and an arsenal of hunting weapons.
A corner of the 'Belgica', Philippe's Cabin.
In 1904, Philippe had visited Svalbard in his private yacht, Maroussia, mostly hunting reindeer. His interests aroused by the Arctic regions, he chartered for his next cruise a more sturdy vessel, Belgica, captained by the Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache, who had envisioned a journey that was part adventure and part scientific endeavor. In 1905, despite being mainly dedicated to hunting, this expedition yielded significant scientific observations and mapping results of newly discovered land areas. The successful “Oceanographic Cruise” had brought the Duc d’Orléans again into favour with a people ever disposed to honour grit and enterprise. Subsequently, Philippe bought the Belgica and mounted two more voyages in 1907 and 1909, with specific aim of obtaining more arctic specimens for his museum.
His account of his voyage on board the Belgica is written in a charming, simple style that reveals the patriotic zeal and kindly nature of the author. His description of the crew’s landing on unknown soil, hoisting the tricolor and naming the newly discovered land, “Terre-de-France”, is touchingly pathetic.
“France ! ...
In the bush of Africa, in the wilds of Asia, or among the Arctic glaciers she [France] was with me ... twenty years of torture, of exile from France, with this cruel longing always at one’s heart ! ... in which God has given me the great pleasure of enriching the scientific heritage of my country and discovering land where I was able to hoist the French flag !”
Philippe and crew hoisting the tricolor and claiming Terre France.
The prince lived in the halo of melancholy caused by nostalgia for the land of his ancestors. Philippe alludes to it in his book named “Hunters and Hunting in the Arctic”, with following typical passage :
[introduction] … “Whatever the future may be which Providence has in store for me, those repeated struggles with the ice and sea have not been useless. They have at least served to enable me to understand and love the humble sailors who so cheerfully risked their lives for in each day. They have, I hope, tended to develop the man I aspire to be, so that should God one day see fit to impose greater and more onerous burdens upon me I may not prove wanting on finding myself at the helm of a ship larger and more difficult to navigate than my old Belgica.”
Vive Philippe VIII - Vive La France !
Part II : Musée du Duc d'Olreans