The Prince Imperial’s first years in Paris were that of spectacular magnificence and importance. His father was beginning to prepare for the invasion of Russia in 1812; which would to prove to be the beginning of the end for the Empire born through revolution. The imperial trappings at the household of his parents was splendorous, and is noted as “the Prince Imperial’s favorite toys are flags, trumpets, drums, a great horse that is often in repair due to heavy usage, wooden blocks with military unit markings and wood carved soldiers.”
His mother adored the child, while his father loved and taught his child about the affairs of the Empire. Servants and advisors would often catch the Emperor studying important matters of state with the Prince Imperial in the room, by his father’s side, or sleeping on the furniture against his father’s legs. When receiving dignitaries it was often noted that the guests would have to bow before both Emperor Napoléon I and the Prince Imperial.
A painting of the Emperor and the Prince Imperial in the Imperial Household's study.
At the age of two and a half, with his sweet lips hardly capable of repeating words that were being said to him, the education began. His tutors drilled in the language of the nation, French with great vigor. It is rumored that by the age of three, possibly four, his vocabulary matched that of a nine year old rather than a toddler. It had been determined by Napoléon I that the Prince Imperial would be prepared for his great place in history that awaited him.
However; the realities of the world would begin to seep into the dreams and hopes and quickly turn them into a frantic dash for safety. The Allied Armies had defeated his father’s last attempt to save France outside of Paris on March 29th, 1814, shortly after the Prince Imperial’s third birthday. His father now faced a simple yet disdainful choice. The throne of France could remain in the hands of a Bonaparte, as long as it was content with the borders of pre-revolutionary France.
A painting of the Emperor and the Prince Imperial in the Imperial Household's library shortly before the defeat of Napoléon's army outside of Paris on March 29th, 1814.