Empress Eugénie of France

Empress Eugénie of France was born on this day in 1826. The daughter of Cipriano de Palafox y Portocarrero, 13th Duke of Peñaranda del Duero and María Manuela Kirkpatrick, Countess of Montijo, her only sister became the Duchess of Alba. Educated in France and the UK, in 1953, she married Emperor Napoleon III, a month after he was proclaimed Emperor. The couple had one son, Napoléon, Prince Imperial. Becoming well loved by the French people, Empress Eugénie was copied throughout the world for her style, made famous in Winterhalter portraits. In 1871, after a failed war against Prussia, the French Second Empire was abolished, and the Imperial family went into exile in England. Widowed in 1873, she also lost her son in 1879. Close to Queen Victoria, she became the godmother of her granddaughter, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (later Queen of Spain). Active during WWI, Empress Eugénie was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire for her services to the war effort. She died in 1920, while on a visit to relatives in Madrid. She is buried with her husband and son in the Imperial Crypt at St. Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire.

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