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A Lady or Priest?

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A Lady or Priest?

The Prince Imperial, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, came to South Africa to fight with the British in the Anglo-Zulu War. However his solider career was short lived, as The Prince Imperial died on South African soil two months after his arrival in Durban.

Accompanied by an escort of Natal Carbineers, the body travelled via Koppie Alleen, Landman’s Drift and Dundee to Pietermaritzburg and then Durban. He was buried in Chislehurst, England, where a large crowd, including Queen Victoria, paid their last respects.

In 1888, his remains, together with those of his father, were re-interred in the crypt of Farnborough Abbey, Hampshire.


The Prince Imperial’s body rested overnight at Fort Jones, (where Dundee is today). Carbutt’s mounted troopers accompanied the ambulance cart and the coffin down the Uithoek valley towards Wasbank. All the farmers of the neighbourhood stood in silence on the roadside watching the cortege. Seventy years after the event, Lodewyk de Jager’s mother told the story of being one of the silent bystanders.

She was transfixed by a figure she took to be the Prince’s mother, who walked behind the coffin cart wearing a black tricorn hat, white blouse with a large lace collar and a black skirt.

A drawing from the “Graphic” however, revealed the figure’s true identity – it was actually the Roman Catholic priest in his biretta and robes.

In 1880, his mother, Princess Eugenie visited South Africa and spent the anniversary of his death on the spot where he was killed.  She believed that the ghost of her son was present that night.

Lori Voss

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