Louise Marie Adélaïde Eugénie was born on 23 August 1777 at the Palais Royal, Paris, and was one of the twin daughters of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, and Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon. Adélaïde’s twin sister, Francoise, died in 1782.
Adélaïde and her siblings were educated according to the principles of their governess, Stéphanie Félicité, comtesse de Genlis, who had very practical ideas on education. Adélaïde became very attached to her governess, so much so her mother tried to have Mme de Genlis replaced but was not successful. Adopting her governess’s stance, Adélaïde kept to a very strict regime and made herself sleep on a hard mattress to stop herself becoming soft.
When the French Revolution began, Adélaïde was taken to England by Mme de Genlis while her parents were imprisoned. After a year in England, Adélaïde was brought back to France at her father’s request to prevent her name from being placed on the list of emigres but it was too late so Mme de Genlis took Adélaïde to Switzerland where she was placed in a convent in Bremgarten. Tragically, Adélaïde’s father was guillotined during the Reign of Terror and her mother was imprisoned in Spain, so Adélaïde went to live with her aunt, Maria Fortunata d’Este in Bavaria until her mother was released in 1801.
Unfortunately, Adélaïde and her mother were not on good terms as Adélaïde disapproved of her mother’s relationship with Jacques-Marie Rouzet whom she had met in prison and made her chancellor. After Adélaïde attended the wedding of her brother Louis Philippe to Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, Adélaïde chose to live with them at the Palazzo Orléans in Palermo. Adélaïde loved her time with her brother’s family and she devoted herself to his children.
After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, Adélaïde returned to Paris with her brother and settled at the Palais Royal. Adélaïde continued to be a great source of strength for her brother who increasingly relied on her advice and involved her in the family councils of the House of Orléans. Although Adélaïde supported the restoration of the monarchy, she wanted her brother on the throne and as a result was not on good terms with the Bourbons. Adélaïde used her own finances to promote the interests of the liberal press and became patron for a large number of intellectuals and artists who supported the cause.
Louis Philippe was eventually invited to became King of the French in 1830 and he appears to have been pushed into accepting by Adélaïde who continued to exert her influence over him throughout his reign. When Adélaïde died on 31 December 1847, Louis Philippe felt her loss greatly. He abdicated two months later.
House (birth): House of Orléans
Father: Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Mother: Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon
Born: 23 Aug 1777
Died: 31 Dec 1847