Theoretically, Napoleon’s toddler son, known as the King of Rome and called François, became Napoleon II on June 22, 1815, when Napoleon abdicated in his favor after the battle of Waterloo. In reality, the boy never ruled. With the help of France’s enemies, Louis XVIII claimed the throne, reestablishing the Bourbon dynasty.
Meanwhile, young Napoleon François grew up in Austria as the Duke of Reichstadt. He once said to a friend, “If Josephine had been my mother, my father would not have been buried at Saint Helena, and I should not be at Vienna. My mother is kind but weak; she was not the wife my father deserved.” Sadly, he died from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-one, eleven years after Napoleon I’s own death. He was buried in Vienna.
In 1940, during the World War II German Occupation, Adolf Hitler personally ordered the return of the King of Rome’s body to Paris, as “a gift to the French people.” They quietly buried the unfortunate young man in the floor of a non-descript side chapel in Les Invalides at the foot of a statue of his father. There is, of course, no mention of Hitler’s involvement anywhere in sight.
If you wish to view some eerie photos and video of Hitler’s one-day visit to Paris in June 1940, you can find them on the website axishistory.com or by searching on YouTube. Just beware that you may run into racist and anti-French remarks in the comments on YouTube. There aren’t any pictures of Hilter at the top of the Eiffel Tower, because some brave Frenchman climbed up and cut the elevator’s cables so that Hitler couldn’t use it.