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11th April 2004The Scent of Violets
By Ron Lock
I thought you all might enjoy this gem of fiction purporting to be fact. It was reprinted in the Reader’s Digest from “Phantom Soldiers” by Raymond Lamont Brown.


The Scent of Violets

Emperor Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie, and their son, Louis, were given refuge in England by Queen Victoria after the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Louis was loyal to his adopted country and joined a British regiment that went to fight in South Africa. In 1879 the prince was killed in a battle with Zulus, and he was buried hurriedly in the jungle.

Eugénie was adamant that Louis’s body be returned to England and buried in the family vault with Napoleon III. In 1880 she went to Africa with two companions to find the prince’s grave, hiring Zulu guides to help in the search.

But the jungle regenerates quickly, and the grave could not be found. Her friends, fearing for her health, urged her to give up the seemingly hopeless mission, but she insisted on continuing.

One morning she tore in the jungle, shouting, “Par ici! C’est la route!” (“Through here! This is the way!”) Her incredulous party followed as she ran through the jungle, over rocks and fallen logs, through grass as high as her head, as though on a clear path, until she reached a marker so overgrown as to be completely hidden. It was the grave of Prince Louis.

To her amazed companions she said that she was guided by the scent of violets. Louis had loved the scent and had always worn it. She followed the scent of violets until it faded, and arrived at the grave. (Raymond Lamont Brown, Phantom Soldiers, pp.101-02).
11th April 2004AMB

Cracking - thank you for this. Very good.
My Grandfather always said that Darkest Africa was covered in jungle...!

16th April 2004Mike McCabe
It is, though, true that the Empress (and Prince) liked violets. One of the British regimental wreaths provided for his funeral at St Michael's Abbey Farnborough was made from many thousands of them.