The Duke of Parma Passed Away
His Royal Highness Duke Carlos Hugo of Parma and Piacenza, Prince of Bourbon-Parma passed away yesterday morning in Barcelona, aged 80. He was suffering of cancer since February 2008, and early this month was hospitalized after his health condition deteriorated.
Prince Hugues Xavier of Bourbon-Parma was born in Paris on 8 April 1930, the second of the six children of Prince Xavier (son of the last reigning Duke Roberto I of Parma and his second wife Duchess Maria Antonia, née Infanta of Portugal) and Princess Madeleine, née Countess of Bourbon-Busset. At the time his parents’ marriage was considered as morganatic, because Princess Madeleine wasn’t born into a Royal House; only in 1961 Duke Roberto II, Head of the Ducal House, recognized the marriage as dynastic and the succession rights of Xavier’s children.
Prince Xavier became in 1936 the main Carlist claimant to the Spanish Throne (being the others Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia and Archduke Carl Pius of Austria) and leader of Carlism, a Spanish political movement, supportive of legitimism and traditionalism, whose aim is the establishment to the throne of a different line of the Spanish Royal Family (the descendants of Infante Carlos, younger brother of King Fernando VII); Carlism was traditionally supported by the political party Traditionalist Communion.
Prince Hugues Xavier attended during the 1950s the university firstly at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he studied Law, and at Oxford as a student of economics. During the same period he got involved in political activities at his father’s side; in particular during the 1960s he approached the Spanish Caudillo Francisco Franco with the aim of being appointed as successor of Franco (thus becoming King of Spain at the restoration of the Monarchy in Spain once Franco had died) instead of the other Spanish Dynasts, in particular Juan Carlos, Prince of Asturias, and Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia. The negotiations turned out to be a double failure: on a side because Franco didn’t appoint Carlos Hugo as his heir, and on the other side because many Carlists disapproved the negotiations and ceased to support Carlism and the Bourbon-Parma claimants.
In 1963 a French Court allowed the Prince to officially change his name from Hugues Xavier to Charles Hugues (but the most used form was the Spanish Carlos Hugo). In the same year the same period he got engaged to Princess Irene of the Netherlands, the second daughter of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard and second in the line of succession to the Dutch throne. The engagement caused a constitutional crisis in the Netherlands: the secret conversion of Irene to Catholicism, the support of Irene to Carlism and the ties between her fiancé and General Franco – who had supported Nazi Germany during World War II – were highly criticized in the Netherlands, and the Dutch parliament refused to give its permission to the marriage – permission necessary to Irene for maintaining her rights to the throne. Nevertheless their marriage took place in Rome in the Borghese Chapel at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, on 29 April 1964, marked by the absence of all the members of Irene’s family and the Dutch authorities, as well as of the Head of Bourbon-Parma Family who disagreed with Xavier and Carlos’ political activities.
After the wedding the couple moved to Spain; they had four children: Prince Carlos, Prince of Piacenza and now Duke of Parma and Piacenza, born in 1970; Princess Margarita, Countess of Colorno, and Prince Jaime, Count of Bardi, twins born in 1972; and Princess Maria Carolina, Marchioness of Sala, born in 1974.
Carlos Hugo and Irene divorced in 1981.
In 1971 Prince Carlos Hugo founded a new Carlist Party; this party was very distant from the conservative and traditionalist views of Traditionalist Communion, because it supported leftist self-managed socialist politics. The establishment of this party lead to a deep rift inside Carlism, as many remained faithful to the traditional Carlist ideals and supportive towards Traditionalist Communion; even the Ducal family split, because Carlos Hugo’s mother, elder sister and brother refused his new party and considered it as a betrayal towards the true Carlist ideals, while his three younger sisters supported him; the position of Prince Xavier is unclear, since in the last days of his life he issued several contrasting declarations, once supporting the new Carlist Party, once supporting Comunion Tradicionalista.
The rift culminated in the Montejurra Incidents, on 9 may 1976, when during the annual Carlist Party meeting in Montejurra, attended by Carlos Hugo and Irene, far-right gunmen shot on the Carlist supporters, killing two of them; it is believed that the attack was organized with the help of Carlos Hugo’s brother and rival claimant Sixte-Henri.
In 1974, at the death of Duke Roberto II, Prince Xavier became Duke of Parma; the following year he abdicated as Carlist King of Spain in favor of Carlos Hugo. In 1977 Xavier died, and Carlos Hugo became also Duke of Parma and Piacenza. After Xavier’s death, Sixte Henri publicly claimed to be the Carlist successor of his father instead of Carlos Hugo and proclaimed himself Standard-bearer of Tradition.
In 1978-9 Carlos Hugo left politics; he resigned as head of the Carlist Party (and even ceased to be a member of the Party), publicly acknowledged Juan Carlos I as King of Spain and acquired Spanish citizenship.
He no longer asserted his Carlist claims until September 2003, when during a Carlist meeting in France announced that since that moment he and his children Carlos, Jaime and Maria Carolina would be known by their Carlist titles.
The remains of Duke Carlos Hugo will be moved to The Hague, Netherlands, on 20 August; there the Duke will lie in state for relatives and friends in the Fagel Dome, in the estate of Noordeinde Palace; then on 23 his remains will be brought to Piacenza, where they will lie in state in the church of Santa Maria di Campagna, and the following day they’ll be moved to Parma, where the funeral will be celebrated at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata on 28 August; the Duke will be buried in the crypt of the sanctuary.Italian Royals
Tagged Biography, Carlos Hugo Duke of Parma, Death, House of Bourbon-Parma.