French Prince Ready and Waiting for Monarchy to Return

More than two centuries after the French cut off their king's head, a pretender to France's throne is planning a royal wedding.

Prince Jean d'Orléans, Duke of Vendôme, announced earlier this month that, at the age of 43, he will soon marry, with the hope of extending his royal line. His descendants would then be ready if the French monarchy — which was toppled by the bloody Revolution of 1789 — is ever brought back.

Prince Jean d'Orleans is undeterred by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's untimely demise. He believes a monarch is just what France needs right now.

"Maybe one day the monarchy will be restored in France," said Prince Jean as he strolled around the gardens of the Palais Royal in central Paris. "The prince can't just sit back and wait. He must make his mark."

Europe has many families descended from old monarchies. But most are happy just to enjoy the social status their backgrounds confer.

Prince Jean's ambitions are unusual — and perhaps far-fetched. France restored the monarchy in the 19th century as many as four times, depending on definitions, but has since chosen to stay a republic. Alliance Royale, a group that wants to choose a king by referendum, got just 0.031% of the vote in the 2004 European elections.

"The idea of going back 200 years is unthinkable," says Charles Napoléon, a politician descended from a brother of Napoléon Bonaparte.

Moreover, even if France decided it wanted its monarchy back, Prince Jean would have to battle a claim from a rival family — the Bourbons, who share a family name with the executed king, Louis XVI. Meanwhile, his own dynasty is struggling to end years of decline.

Prince Jean does his best to live like a king.

He has no official status and little public recognition, and he has to work for a living. He has been a financial consultant, and he now works full time promoting French heritage.

Click here to read more on this story from the Wall Street Journal.