The Corner

If Uncle Eddie Could Do It, So Can the Pope

From the Rev. George William Rutler, the unofficial chaplain of this Corner, the author of Coincidentally, and the world’s leading authority on what the press keeps missing, a reflection on the state visit this past week which saw Madame Sarkozy wow ‘em in London:

The fascination of the press with the new wife of President Sarkozy during their state visit to Britain reminds one of a similar response to the Empress Eugenie when she accompanied Napoleon III to London in 1855, exactly one hundred years before the birth of  Sarkozy. Almost everything the media have been saying about Carla Bruni was said about Eugenie de Montijo, Maria Ignatia Austina Palafox de Guzman Portocarrero y Kirkpatrick. Her marriage to the Emperor after he had tried to wed Queen Victoria’s niece, Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, was almost as controversial as that of Carla and Sarkozy (who failed his examinations at the Lycee Chaptal, near the very spot where the American dentist Thomas Evans had rescued Eugenie from a mob exactly one hundred years earlier.) Carla Bruni wrote the lyrics for the musical album “Si j’etais elle” on the centenary of the death of Dr. Evans for whom the first School of Dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania was named. When that collection of songs was published, astronomers discovered a moon orbiting Asteroid 45 Eugenie, named for the Empress, which was the first asteroid ever named for a human.

Eugenie’s god daugher, Victoria Eugene, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, became Queen to Alfonso XIII of Spain and later lived in exile in Lausanne as a neighbor of Charlie Chaplin and a parishioners of mine who once gave a luncheon for the two of them. They ignored their hostess and did all the talking.  When Queen Victoria Eugenie, niece of Edward VII,  became a Catholic to marry Alfonso, she said, “If Uncle Eddie can be head of a Church, surely the Pope can.”  The present Duke of York’s estranged wife, who was featured in the tabloids neglectful of her dress rather like Carla years ago, is mother of a young Princess Eugenie.  So things have come full circle, though none of our media seem aware of it.