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Empress Madeleine of France (Napoleon's World)

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Empress Madeleine Bonaparte of France (nee: Madeleine Sylvia von Vibbescholde; 14 March 1939 - 23 June 2011) was the Empress of France and wife of Emperor Albert II. Styled Her Royal Majesty the Empress, Madeleine was the first Empress to not be born from a traditional aristocratic family and was the first Empress since Gabrielle to not be of French origin or descent, hailing from Berlin. She was the mother of the current Emperor, Maurice Napoleon I and the grandmother of Christine, the heiress apparent to the French throne.

Known for her beauty and stylistic choices in her youth, Madeleine was a fashion and cultural symbol within France, becoming particularly prominent following the death of her brother-in-law in 1970 when her husband became Crown Prince. A noted humanitarian, she was afforded great levity by her husband's government to raise awareness for poverty in France's less developed colonies, and her efforts are often cited as a major influence on her husband's granting of greater local authority in the overseas holdings. In her later years, in particular the 1990's, she came to symbolize the "moral authority" of the French right against the excesses of the culture libre. Madeleine was lovingly referred to as "the Mother of the Empire" for her warm public persona. She became Albert II's public surrogate during his struggles with cancer in the early 2000's, and gave his eulogy at his 2006 eulogy. She retired from public life in good health, but died suddenly in 2011, apparently of a massive heart attack, at only the age of 72. An estimated 10 million entered the streets of Paris to view her funeral procession on 27th June, a number of spectators almost as large as the legendary funeral of Sebastien.

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