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French seeking emperor's corpse

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Kara Sundstrom
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« on: December 10, 2007, 08:06:04 pm »

French seeking emperor's corpse
Last Updated: 2:14am GMT 10/12/2007

He was the last emperor and the first president of France but for 120 years the Emperor Napoleon III's remains have lain in England.

Exiled: Napoleon III of France
and the Empress Eugénie

Now the French want them back. Tomorrow Christian Estrosi, the secretary of state for overseas territories, will arrive in Britain to request the return of the remains of the exiled emperor and his wife, Empress Eugénie, which lie in a crypt in St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Mr Estrosi said: "This trip will be for me an occasion to send a clear message to the British - to thank them for all they did for the imperial couple in exile but also to remind them that we have some rights over them."

But Father Cuthbert, the Benedictine monk who heads the abbey, is unlikely to agree to Mr Estrosi's request to return the remains of Napoleon III, who sought refuge in England with his family and a few faithful followers after his defeat in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

The monk said he hoped the minister was coming to ask forgiveness for having left the monastery so long without news or support.

The Empress Eugénie founded the abbey in about 1888.
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