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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 11:34 GMT
French want Napoleon remains back
Abbot Cuthbert Brogan at the tomb of Napoleon III
Napoleon III has been entombed in Farnborough since 1888
A French government minister has visited a Hampshire abbey asking for the remains of Napoleon III which are buried there to be returned to France.

Christian Estrosi wants them sent back by 2010 to mark the 150-year anniversary of Nice becoming part of France under Napoleon III.

The former French president and emperor - nephew of Napoleon I - died in exile in Britain.

The monks at St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough have denied the request.

The deposed president first lived in Kent when he came to Britain and when he died he was originally buried in Chislehurst.

'Frank' discussion

Napoleon III spent the last three years of his life in exile in England, with Empress Eugenie and his only son, after he was captured and deposed during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

I think he left with a fuller appreciation of what's here and why it should continue to be here
Abbot Cuthbert Brogan

When his son - also Napoleon - died in 1879, the empress built a monastery and imperial mausoleum in Farnborough.

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan said the bodies of Napoleon III and his son were moved to the imperial crypt at St Michael's Abbey in 1888.

The empress was also entombed there when she died in 1920.

Mr Estrosi laid a floral tribute to the emperor, after which he met with the abbot.

"It was private conversation between me and the minister that was frank and I think he left with a fuller appreciation of what's here and why it should continue to be here," Abbot Brogan told the BBC.

Mr Estrosi has been quoted in the French press as saying he was grateful to London for everything it did for the imperial couple, but that France also has a claim to the remains.

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