French kings' descendant in Madhya Pradesh
Balthazar Napolean de Bourbon, a jovial Indian lawyer and part-time farmer settled in Bhopal, has been told that he is the first in line to the lost French throne.
According to media reports, "Bourbon may soon make his first trip to Paris, after he was visited by a relative of Prince Philip, who told him that he is the first in line to the lost French throne."
This Indian father of three is being feted as the long-lost descendant of the Bourbon kings who ruled France from the 16th century to the French revolution.
A distant cousin of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he is alleged to be not only related to the current Bourbon king of Spain and the Bourbon descendants still in France, but to have more claim than any of them to the French crown.
Prince Michael of Greece, the cousin of Prince Philip, this week published a historical novel called Le Rajah de Bourbon, which traces the swashbuckling story of Bourbon's first royal ancestor in India.
Prince Michael believes Jean de Bourbon was a nephew of the first Bourbon French king, Henry IV. In the mid-16th century Jean embarked on an action-packed adventure across the world which saw him survive assassination attempts and kidnap by pirates to be sold at an Egyptian slave market and serve in the Ethiopian army.
In 1560, he turned up at the court of the Mogul emperor Akbar. It was the beginning of a long line of Bourbons in India, who centuries later would serve as the administrators of Bhopal and become the second most important family in the region.
Michael of Greece, who lives in Paris and is of Bourbon descent believes his work on his newfound Indian "cousins" is more than just the latest whimsy in a history of attempts to uncover relatives of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
"If I am right - and I don't have absolute proof, but I completely believe in my theory - then Balthazar Bourbon would be the eldest in the line," he told the Guardian.
"This is the cherry on the cake. Bourbon is head of a decent, dignified, middle-class Indian family. They look so Indian and yet bear this name. When you look at them, it seems incredible. The more unbelievable it is, the more I believe in it."
He said several of his royal relatives in Spain and France were "quite excited and thrilled to have found a new branch". He was in favour of a DNA test, perhaps from a surviving lock of Bourbon hair, to establish the facts.
When his sister went to France on holiday she visited a castle once owned by Bourbon kings. It was closed to the public but she showed her Indian passport with the Bourbon name and was allowed in.