Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Engagement of Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon and Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg

In March 2019, it became publicly known that Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon, son of Prince Charles Napoléon and Princess Béatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, had become engaged to Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg, daughter of Count Riprand of Arco-Zinneberg and Archduchess Maria Beatrix of Autria. Jean-Christophe and Olympia have been in a relationship for some years. The prince had proposed to the countess in January 2019 in Switzerland. Jean-Christophe's grandmother, the Dowager Princess Napoléon, resides in Switzerland at Prangins.

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Prince Jean-Christophe succeeded his grandfather as Prince Napoleon, Head of the Imperial House France. Countess Olympia is a great-granddaughter Emperor Karl and Empress Zita.

Jean-Christophe was born at Saint-Raphaël, Var, on 11 July 1986 as the second child and only son of Prince Charles Napoléon (b.1950) and Princess Béatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (b.1950). Jean-Christophe joined an older sister, Princess Caroline (b.1980). Charles and Béatrice ruffled the feathers of their respective parents, the Prince and Princess Napoléon as well as the Duke and Duchess of Castro, by contracting a civil marriage in 1978 and declining to hold a Roman Catholic ceremony.

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The marriage of Jean-Christophe’s parents ended in 1989. When his father Charles married a divorced commoner in 1996, his father Louis (1914-1997) changed his will to make his grandson heir to the Imperial House of France. Princess Béatrice was received as the mother of the Head of the Imperial House by her former mother-in-law Princess Alix (b.1926) at the funeral of Prince Louis in 1997. Jean-Christophe is fluent in French, English, and Spanish. In 2017, he completed a MBA at the Harvard Business School. Since that time, the prince has lived in London, where he also works.

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Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg, the fiancée of Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon, was born in 1988 at Munich as the third daughter of Count Riprand of Arco-Zinneberg (b.1955) and Archduchess Maria Beatrix of Austria (b.1954). Riprand and Maria Beatrix were married in 1980 and became the parents of six daughters: Anna Theresa (b.1981), Margherita (b.1983), Olympia (b.1988), Maximiliana (b.1990), Marie-Gabrielle (b.1992), and Giorgiana (b.1997). The family has lived between Germany and the United States, where Riprand has business interests.

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Olympia graduated from Yale University in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science. The countess went on to Columbia University in the City of New York, where she emerged in 2015 with a M.A. in Art History. Olympia played on the hockey teams of both Yale and Columbia. While at Yale, she was featured in a university publication wherein she elaborated on her educational experiences: "I am from Austria. I’ve also lived in Germany and Connecticut. I went to boarding school in the United Kingdom and took my gap year in Shanghai, China. Since coming to Yale, I did the Yale-Peking University program during my spring semester sophomore year. Next fall I will spend the semester in Paris." It was during this Paris sejourn that the countess and the prince made one another's acquaintance.

In an alliance reminiscent of Gotha marriages of a bygone era, Jean-Christophe and Olympia are also distantly related.

On Jean Christophe's paternal side, he is a descendant of many illustrious dynasties, other than the House of Napoléon. His father's paternal grandparents were: Prince Victor Napoléon, son of Prince Napoléon (also known as Plon-Plon) and of his wife Princess Clothilde of Savoy (both her mother and paternal grandmother were Habsburgs); and Clémentine of Belgium, youngest daughter of King Leopold II and of his Austrian wife, the former Archduchess Marie Henriette. Prince Napoléon's parents were Prince Jerôme, youngest brother of Emperor Napoléon, and Princess Catherine of Württemberg. As a descendant of King Leopold II, Jean-Christophe has ties to the Coburg dynasty.

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The Coburgs also provide a genealogical link sweeten Jean-Christophe and Olympia. Emperor Karl, her great-grandfather, was the son of Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, whose parents were King grog of Saxony and his wife, Infanta Maria Anna of Portugal. She, in turn, was the daughter of Queen Maria II and of her second husband King Consort Ferdinand, born a Prince of of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Kohary line). Ferdinand of Coburg was a first cousin of King Leopold II of the Belgians.

Olympia is also related to the Habsburg and Wittelsbach dynasties through her father, Count Riprand. His maternal grandmother was Princess Gundelinde of Bavaria, youngest child of King Ludwig III and his wife Maria Theresa, née Austria-Este. Her mother was Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria, an older sister of Archduchess Marie Henriette, consort of King Leopold II.

Furthermore, the Counts of Arco-Zinneberg are descendants of Archduchess Leopoldina (1776-1768), who in 1795 married the aged Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1724-1799). Upon his death, Leopoldina remained living in Munich, where in November 1804 she married a Bavarian aristocrat, Count Ludwig von Arco (1773-1856). They had several children, among them Count Maximilian (1811-1885), who married Countess Leopoldina von Waldburg zu Zeil u. Trauchburg (1811-1886). They in turn were the parents of Countess Christiane von Arco-Zinneberg (1852-1923), who in 1878 married Count Konrad von Preysing-Lichtenegg-Moos (1843-1903). Their third son was Count Johann-Georg (1887-1924), who in 1919 married as his second wife (his first wife Countess Anna von Lerchfeld died in 1916) Princess Gundelinde of Bavaria. Their youngest child, Countess Maria-Theresia's second husband was Count Ulrich-Philipp von Arco-Zinneberg. Their son Riprand is the father of Countess Olympia.

Count Riprand also descends from Archduchess Leopoldina through his father, Count Ulrich-Philipp (1917-1980). He was the son of Count Joseph von Arco-Zinneberg (1881-1924) and of his wife Princess Wilhelmina of Auersperg (1884-1919), who died in childbirth. Count Joseph was the son of Count Ludwig von Arco-Zinneberg (1840-1882) and of his second wife Princess Josephine of Lobkowicz (1853-1898).  Count Ludwig, an older brother of Countess Christiane, who we mentioned in the previous paragraph, was therefore a grandchild of Archduchess Leopoldina.

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Her mother, Archduchess Maria Beatrix, is the daughter of Archduke Robert of Austria-Este, second son of Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, and of the former Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta, eldest daughter of the 3rd Duke of Aosta and of his wife, Princess Anne of Orléans, a sister of the Count of Paris (1908-1999).

The Savoy connection also provides a common link between Jean-Christophe and Olympia, as her grandfather, the 3rd Duke of Aosta was a grandson of Amadeo, 1st Duke of Aosta (and former King of Spain), a brother of Princess Clothilde of Savoy, mother of Prince Victor Napoléon.

One of Olympia's cousins is Archduke Amadeo, eldest son of Archduke Lorenz and of Princess Astrid of Belgium, only daughter of King Albert II and Queen Paola. This line also connects Jean-Christophe and Olympia as Albert II was the youngest son of of Prince Philippe of Belgium, brother of King Leopold II. Another brother of Maria Beatrix is Archduke Martin, who is married to Princess Katharina of Isenburg, sister of the Dowager Fürstin of Wied, the Fürst of Isenburg, and Princess Sophie of Prussia, wife of Prince Georg Friedrich, Head of the House of Hohenzollern.

There are countless other connections between Jean-Christophe and Olympia. At least the ones we have listed ought to make the reader realise that this is simply a sublime, and lovely, alliance between two modern young people who carry with them ancient legacies. All those who follow the events of the imperial and royal families of Europe will doubtless be looking forward to seeing images of the day on which this handsome couple is joined in matrimony. 

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