The Queen and the President of France will be invited to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s arrival on St Helena – if the idea wins approvals from island councillors.
The French emperor arrived on the island on 15 October, 1815 – only four days after news reached the island that he was on his way to James Bay.
A motion proposing the Queen and President are invited to the island will go before legislative councillors in Jamestown on Friday (24 January 2012). It has been proposed by Councillor Brian Isaac. It reads:
That this House, recognising the international importance of the Bi-Centenary of Napoleon’s residence on St Helena, and the programme of events that is being drawn up to commemorate the Bi-Centenary, resolves to issue invitations, through the appropriate diplomatic channels, to Her Majesty the Queen and to the President of the Republic of France, to visit the island during the Bi-Centenary period.
Her Majesty will be 89 years old at the time of the 200th anniversary, which may make a visit less likely.
However, the bi-centenary falls only weeks before the first passenger flight is due to arrive at St Helena’s new airport, on 2 December 2015.
As part of the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year, members of the Royal Family are visiting Commonwealth countries and overseas territories. The Earl and Countess of Wessex are currently on a tour of the West Indies, which includes visits to Anguilla and Montserrat.
The current Président de la République Française is Nicolas Sarkozy, but presidential elections take place this year. The main candidates are the right-wing M Sarkozy and the socialist François Hollande, with the extreme right Marine Le Pen polling high in third place.
In 2008, a French delegation visited St Helena at the invitation of the French consul, Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Napoleonic properties being handed to France.
The party was led by Prince d’Essling, president of the Napoleon Foundation, with Count Walewski, a direct descendant of Napoleon, and the Duke d’Albufera, a descendant of one of Napoleon’s most trusted marshals.
The group also included a curator from the Louvre Museum in Paris, a representative of the French Ministry of Culture, and two other scholars.