When Louis Philippe I was forced to abdicate in 1848, he thought he was doing so in favour of his nine-year-old grandson, Philippe, comte de Paris, but the French Second Republic was declared instead.

Philippe’s claim on the French throne was tenuous at best since his grandfather had plotted to steal the throne from under the noses of the House of Bourbon and the Legitimists (those loyal to the House of Bourbon) regarded Henri, comte de Chambord, as the rightful claimant. Henri was the last legitimate descendant in the male line of Louis XV of France but his death on 24 August 1883 left the succession in disarray as he had no male heirs.

While Henri himself had acknowledged the line of succession would continue under the House of Orléans under the aforementioned Philippe, comte de Paris, his wife, Maria Theresa of Austria-Este, and a large number of the Legitimists believed the succession should continue with the senior branch of the House of Bourbon who ruled Spain. As a result, the Legitimists named Juan, Count of Montizón, as the rightful heir despite the fact the Spanish branch had renounced all rights to the French throne after Philippe, duc d’Anjou, became Philip V of Spain. While Juan was proclaimed as Jean III, King of France and Navarre, by the Legitimists, the Orléanist/Unionist faction were busy proclaiming the comte de Paris as Philippe VII of France.

Unionist Claimant

The current claimant from the House of Orléans (or the Unionists) is Henri Philippe Pierre Marie d’Orléans, comte de Paris, who was born on 14 June 1933. As a descendant of Philippe, comte de Paris, rightful heir of Henri, comte de Chambord, Henri was proclaimed as Henri VII in 1999 after the death of his father, Henri.

Henri will be succeeded by his second son, Jean, duc de Vendôme, who became heir after the death of his older brother, François, comte de Clermont, in 2017.

Legitimist Claimant

The current claimant from the House of Bourbon (or the Legitimists) is Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, duc d’Anjou, who was born on 25 April 1974. As the senior agnatic descendant of Louis XIV, he is recognised as the head of the House of Bourbon and was proclaimed by Legitimists as Louis XX in 1989 after the death of his father.

Louis Alphonse will be succeeded by Louis, duc de Bourgogne, the eldest of his twin sons who were born on 28 May 2010.

Bonapartiste Claimant

The current claimant from the House of Bonaparte is Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon, who was born on 11 July 1986. Jean-Christophe is a descendant of Napoleon I through his younger brother, Jérôme, and succeeded as head of the Imperial House of France as Napoléon VIII in 1997 after the death of his grandfather.

As Jean-Christophe has no children yet, his successor is his paternal uncle, Jérôme, as his father has been excluded from the line of succession.