Is Napoleon back?

Citizens across our vexed continent will be heartened by the impending marriage in Paris of two people known until now only to the immensely wealthy and the strewn remnants of Europe’s royal dynasties: Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte and Countess Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg.

The former is the great-great-great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte I, and regarded by Bonapartists as the French dictator’s sole heir. The countess is the great-granddaughter of Karl I of Austria. 

The latter was the first Karl to rule the Hapsburg’s Austrian empire, but, in 1918, was its last emperor, the enterprise having been wiped out by the war in which it had a significant part in starting. 

They are distantly related. Mr Bonaparte, a private equity manager in London, has told Le Figaro that their marriage is the “fruit of European reconciliation and construction, which I believe in enormously”, and he has friends in France who hope he will have an influential role — even a heroic one — in public affairs at a time when trust in politicians is ebbing. 

Yes, this is just what Europe, which is seen by its so-called populist critics as a racket run by cabals of bankers and bureaucrats, needs now: a big money man bearing the name of a tyrant.

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