Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Legacy of Antoine XIV, 14th Duke of Gramont: An Aristocrat Gone Before His Time

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On 26 April 1951, Antoine de Gramont was born at Boulogne-sur-Seine as the only child of Henri de Gramont (1907-1995), eventual 13th Duke de Gramont, and Odile Sublet d'Heudincourt de Lénoncourt (1914- 1994), who had married in 1949.

Armand, Duc de Gramont
Élaine, Duchesse de Gramont
The young Antoine's paternal grandparents were Armand de Gramont (1879-1962), 12th Duke de Gramont, and Countess Elaine Greffulhe (1882-1958). His maternal grandparents were Gérard Sublet d'Heudicourt (1884-?), Marquis d'Heudicourt de Lenoncourt, and Thérèse Gautier-Vignal (1886-1941).

Death notice for Lydwine's father Alfred, Duc de La Roche-Guyon
During the 1970s, Antoine, then Duke de Guiche, became engaged to Lydwine de La Rochefoucauld (b.3 November 1953), daughter Alfred de La Rochefoucauld (1928-2013), Duke de La Roche-Guyon, and Lydie de Jacobé de Haut-de-Sigy (b.1932), who had married in 1952.

On the evening of Friday, 5 September 1975, Antoine and Lydwine were at the beach on Mustang Island, Texas, with the couple they were visiting, Mr and Mrs Paul Davis. At 9:30pm, the group were standing next to their car when they were hit by a vehicle going between 50 and 60 miles per hour and commandeered by fifteen-year old Richard Oakes, who did not have a driver's license and had been drinking. Lydwine died at a local hospital at 10:15pm, both of Antoine's legs were broken and the Davises also sustained injuries. Lydwine had been in Texas as a foreign exchange student; the French consulate in Houston assisted her family with funeral arrangements.

The following week, a lawsuit for $628,000 was filed in a Texas district court against Oakes and Mr and Mrs Roger Wear, who owned the vehicle, on behalf of Alfred and Lydie de La Rouchefoucauld (who sought $128,000 in damages), Antoine de Gramont ($200,000) and Mr and Mr Davis ($150,000 each).

In November 1975, Richard Oakes pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of twenty-one year-old Lydwine.

According to the school friend, Antoine remained immensely affected, both physically and psychologically, by the tragic passing of his fiancée.

Antoine and Catherine, Duke and Duchess de Gramont
On 20 September 2003 at Saint-Hélier, Jersey, Antoine de Gramont civilly married Catherine Françoise Elisabeth Forget (b.17 March 1956). The couple celebrated their religious union at Paris on 11 October 2003. Catherine is the daughter of Jacques Forget and Madeleine Coulon (1925-2011).

The Duchess de Gramont, 2011.
On 22 March 2008, the Duke and Duchess of Gramont welcomed the birth of their first child. Antoine de Gramont, Duke of Guiche, was born in the United States. The Duke of Guiche was christened at Saint Germain-l'Auxerrois on 6 September 2008. The godparents of little Antoine were Jacques de Crussol (b.1957), 17th Duc d'Uzès, and Countess Yolaine de La Rochefoucauld (b.1961; née Leclerc de Hauteclocque), the wife of Count Guy-Antoine de La Rochefoucauld (b.1958; now Duke de La Roche-Guyon), who was the brother of little Antoine's father's late fiancée Lydwine.


On the evening of Monday, 17 February 2014, Houston police were called to the Inwood Manor high-rise complex after neighbours heard loud arguing between the Duke and Duchess de Gramont. Catherine de Gramont told authorities that she had left the couple's twelfth-floor apartment during the argument, but heard a gunshot as she walked out the front door. She returned to the apartment and found that her husband was dead from the self-inflicted wound. The shooting/suicide occurred at about 9:00pm. The five year-old son of the couple was sleeping in the apartment while the episode took place. The Duke de Gramont was sixty-two years-old when he passed away.

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The funeral of Antoine, 14th Duke of Gramont, took place at the Église de la Madeleine at Paris on 6 March 2014. In addition to the duke's widow and young son, the funeral was attended by Prince Jean d'Orléans, then Duke of Vendôme.

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In 2018, the Duchess of Gramont was chosen as a godmother for Princess Jacinthe d'Orléans (b.9 October 2018). Princess Jacinthe is the youngest child of Prince Jean and Princess Philomena d'Orléans, the Count and Countess of Paris. 

1 comment:

  1. The story of the duke is very sad. Unfortunately the tragedy happened in Texas, where I live. I was surprised that Prince Gaston d'Orleans is a young boy who served the Mass or the Baptism only - I'm not sure- for the Princess Jacinthe d'Orleans.

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