BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 16:23 GMT
Burial plans for dauphin's heart
Louis XVII (photo:
For years mystery surrounded the death of the dauphin
The heart of the son of French King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette is to be laid to rest in the family crypt after 200 years of controversy.

The French culture ministry has given permission for the symbolic burial at Saint Denis Basilica, bringing to an end the dauphin's tragic story.

Legend and myth surround the death of 10-year-old Louis XVII in 1795, after his parents met the guillotine's blade.

Some stories say he died in prison, others say an impostor replaced him.

When the boy believed to be the imprisoned prince died in Paris's Temple Prison on 8 June, 1795, a doctor by the name of Pelletan took the youngster's heart and conserved it under the assumption it was in fact that of the dauphin.

The stone-hard heart eventually ended up in an urn in the Royal Chapel near the Saint Denis Basilica, where his parents' hearts are held. Their bodies were placed in a mass grave during the French Revolution and never identified.


Recent DNA tests on the child's heart conducted by two separate laboratories concluded that it was definitely that of a Hapsburg family member, like his mother Marie-Antoinette.

Historian Phillippe Delorme told French newspaper Le Figaro, there was "no doubt" the heart is that of Louis XVII.

A ministry spokesman told Reuters news agency: "Given all the historical and scientific studies, the ministry of culture believes there's mounting evidence that the heart is that of Louis XVII. That has led to its approval to transfer the heart to the royal crypt."

The ministry is reported to have approved the re-burial of the heart at the request of the Institute of the Bourbon House, which represents descendants of the royal family.

The paper said the institute would hold the burial ceremony next 8 June, the anniversary of Louis' death.

Reuters said the ministry could not confirm the date but said the French state would not pay for the burial.

The heart of the Dauphin riddle
20 Apr 00  |  Europe
France's royal riddle
28 Feb 00  |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific