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Pretender to French Throne Dies

The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) - Henri d'Orleans, the Count of Paris and pretender to the French throne, died Saturday at the age of 90, family members said.

The count, whose full name was Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie Louis-Philippe d'Orleans, was a direct descendant of Louis-Phillipe, the last king of France who abdicated in 1848.

He died in Dreux in northern France on the day his grandson was being married in the town's royal chapel, the family said.

President Jacques Chirac called him a ``man of duty'' who ``all his life remained loyal to the heritage of the royal family of France, while still respecting the institutions of the Republic.''

``He accepted as natural the obligation he had to incarnate a tradition that belongs to our history,'' the president said.

Last July, the count, who ran a rest home outside Paris, celebrated his 90th birthday in the company of other royals cast aside by history: the former Empress Farah of Iran and Grand Duchess Maria of Russia. Also present were a handful of royals from Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece.

They celebrated at the count's favorite castle at Amboise in the Loire Valley.

In 1992, the count had a public row with his daughter, Princess Chantal, then a 45-year-old mother of three, for expressing her personal political views at a dinner party.

Invoking a centuries-old law that forbids women from ascending to the throne, the count likened his daughter to a ``rebel or insurgent'' for speaking publicly without his permission.

Chantal had openly criticized the far-right National Front and urged other members of the royal family to speak out.

The count said in a letter published in the Point de Vue-Images du Monde, a magazine that covers royalty, that Chantal had no right, historically, to speak in the name of the royal family.

The count married Princess Isabelle d'Orleans in 1931. They separated in 1986. The couple had 11 children.