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The Man Who Would Be King

Orélie Antoine de Tounens – King of Araucania. Photo (unknown). PD-100+; PD-US-No Notice. Wikimedia Commons.

Did you ever see the movie The Man Who Would Be King? Based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel of the same name, the movie starred Michael Caine and Sean Connery—two guys who became kings of Kafiristan in a remote area of Afghanistan. I won’t spoil the ending for you but it didn’t turn out well for Peachy and Danny (their characters). Delusions of grandeur set in for Danny, natives got restless, and the consequences weren’t pretty.

Researching my medieval book was really 90% about the kings and queens. So when I see an article about French kings and princes, I stop and read it. The one that just caught my eye appeared in the Wall Street Journal on July 8, 2015 (In France, Princes Feud Over a Kingdom You’ve Never Heard Of by Matt Moffett).

A French lawyer, Orélie Antoine de Tounens, somehow got the Mapuche Indians to make him king of a new nation called The Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia (it’s located in South America: Chile). This was in 1860 (spoiler alert: Kipling’s book was published in 1888). Turns out the Indians kicked de Tounens out of his own kingdom and he was forced to return to France where he became a serf.

Anyway, over time, wannabe kings, nobles, and court members of the fictitious kingdom carried on the tradition. The last king recently died at the age of 88 after a 62-year reign as king of his kingdom. Now here’s the problem: the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia does not have a succession plan. Nope, no Salic Law for them. So for the past 18-months, it has turned into a slugfest.


So like FIFA, the closest person to the former king has declared himself king (or more properly, Prince Antoine IV). He’s 73-years-old and claims this right through an election. However, there’s an upstart, young whippersnapper (20-years-old) who is supported by the knights of the court. He’s declared himself to be the legitimate successor to Prince Antoine IV and is supported by several knights of the realm. He even had a banquet held to celebrate his position. I’m sure the guinea fowl came from his personal dovecote (guess we’d have to call it a guineacote).


Seems both sides want to end up on the cover of a Wheaties box with all their medals and titles. For me, I’d give it to Prince Charles of England who seems destined to follow in the footsteps of his great-great Uncle Bertie (did I miss one more great in there?).

Read the entire article.

And by the way, thanks to all of you who posted such positive comments on my blog post, The Last Train Out of Paris. I appreciate the great feedback.

Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our newsletter and blog. Perhaps you’d like to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the most recent newsletter and blog posts.

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Copyright © 2015 Stew Ross

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