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15 December 2010

Luís Fernando Maria Zacarias de Orleans y Borbón (1888 - 1945) Infante.

Luís Fernando, cousin to Alfonso XIII Bourbon (1886 - 1941), King of Spain (1886 – 1931), was born in Madrid. Luís and his elder brother Alfonso were educated in England by Jesuits. In 1900 their parents divorced, which was a big scandal.

Luís Fernando was quite gay and liked to dress as female. He had natural advantages in passing being small, narrow-waisted and small-footed. He appeared in professional stage shows as a girl dancer.  Both he and his mother had an affair with the Portuguese nobleman, António de Vasconcellos.  When de Vasconcellos was seriously ill, both mother and son took care of him.

In 1914 The New York Times announced Luís Fernando’s marriage to a young British woman, but the newspaper was in error. In March 1924 Luís Fernando was expelled from France on the pretext of selling illegal drugs, but probably because of his homosexual activities. His cousin the King stripped him of his status of Infante, and exiled him from Spain. He moved to Lisbon.

In 1926 he was arrested, en femme, in a village in the Algarve, on the Portuguese/ Spanish border, and accused of smuggling.

In 1929 the press announced that he was engaged to a friend of many years, the US actress, Mabelle Gilman, (1880 – 194?).  She was eight years his senior, now retired and living in the Chateau de Vilgénis outside Paris, and rich after her 1923 divorce from William Corey (1866 – 1934) the steel magnate. Gilman converted to Catholicism in preparation for the marriage, but Luís Fernando was still unable to enter France, and his demands for money were becoming excessive.

In 1930, when he was 41, he did marry the 72-year-old Princess Marie Constance Charlotte Say, widow of Prince Henri Amédée de Broglie who had inherited a sugar fortune, despite a lawsuit from her nephew to prevent the marriage.  However the court ruled that a nephew has no such power over an aunt.  Marie owned the magnificent Chateau de Chaumont-sur Loire.  Luís Fernando managed to squander his wife’s fortune in only a few years, and she was forced to sell the Chateau.

In 1935, Luís Fernando was again expelled from France after being arrested in a vice squad raid.

Mabelle Gilman was interned by the Germans in 1940, but released in 1942 with all other female prisoners over 60.

Marie Say, once one of the richest women in Europe, died in ruin in a small apartment in German-occupied Paris in 1943. Luís Fernando then entered a nursing home, also in Paris, where he died two years later, aged 56.
  • "Seize Spanish Prince Disguised as Woman", The New York Times, March 26, 1926: 6.
  • C. J. Bulliet. Venus Castina: Famous Female Impersonators Celestial and Human. New York: Covici 1928. New York: Bonanza Books. 1956: 217-8.
  • Christian Gury. Proust et le "très singulier" infant d'Espagne ; suivi de, Sur Proust, notes, miettes et remarques. Collection "Détours littéraires". Paris: Kimé, 2005.
  • Mrs Astor.  Mrs Astor and The Gilded Age.  April 10, 2008.
  • Eric Lowe.  “Re: Antonio de Orleans and Eulalia de Borbón, Infantes of Spain”. July 25, 2008.

William Corey was still alive in 1929, so would his divorced ex-wife be able to have a Catholic marriage, even after converting?

Cousin Alfonso, the King, was not the luckiest of monarchs.  He lost the last Spanish colonies: Philippinnes, Puerto Rico and Cuba, he lost his throne in 1931, he backed Franco's fascists in the Civil War, but they did not back him in turn, preferring the Carlist pretender. However he is the grandfather of the current king.


    1. About Mabelle Corey, she never had a Catholic marriage so for the Catholic Church she was a single woman. It's like the current Princess Letizia of Spain. A divorcée who never married by the Catholic Church so she could marry the Prince of Asturias.
      For more information about Luis Fernando d'Orleáns Bourbon take a look of my site: (in Spanish)

    2. Strictly speaking, Anton’s comment is not theologically correct. According to Catholic theology, one must differentiate between the sacrament of marriage and the marriage itself. The marriage itself is a contract and it is not accomplished by the Church or the clergy, but by the couple, when they exchange their vows.

      Therefore the Catholic church must logically recognize couples married outside of the church as married, although it is sinful for a Catholic to enter such a marriage and the marriage may not be recognized by the government in countries where Catholicism is the established church.

      Like any corrupt authoritarian regime, the Vatican makes exceptions for privileged persons like Catholic royalty; but if a common couple apply to a parish church for such a marriage the divorcee will be rejected.

    3. La primera biografía del infante Luis Fernando de Orleans y Borbón:
      "El infante maldito. La biografía de Luis Fernando de Orleans, el más depravado príncipe Borbón", Editorial Espasa Calpe (Grupo Planeta), Barcelona, 2012. (ISBN: 978-84-670-0428-1)
      José Carlos García Rodríguez

    4. José Carlos García Rodríguez, autor de una primera biografía de Luis Fernando de Orleans y Borbón hace tiempo agotada ("El Infante Maldito. La Biografía de Luis Fernando de Orleans, el más depravado príncipe Borbón", Espasa, 2012) nos presenta ahora un nuevo libro en el que amplía y actualiza su exitosa obra anterior. Con "El rey de los maricas. Vida y leyenda del infante Luis Fernando de Orleans", García Rodríguez nos sumerge de nuevo en la vida de un ser tan apasionante como fue el hijo menor de la infanta Eulalia de Borbón.

      Miembro de la familia real, este Infante de España a quien gustaba llamarse "rey de los maricas", apelativo que sirve de título a este nuevo libro, transgredió todos los límites y vivió al margen de las convenciones sociales y morales de su época. Repudiado por su homosexualidad por su propia madre, Luis Fernando fue despojado de sus privilegios y prerrogativas de Infante de España por su primo, el rey Alfonso XIII, como castigo por sus escándalos y sus costumbres degeneradas.

      Amante del lujo, los efebos y la buena vida e inclinado a toda suerte de placeres, los días de Luis Fernando de Orleans transcurren entre celebraciones extravagantes, drogas, búsqueda desesperada de dinero y frecuentes problemas con la justicia. Considerado por muchos como ejemplo de la máxima depravación moral, algunos autores señalan que sirvió a Marcel Proust de inspiración para el personaje del barón de Charlus de "En busca del tiempo perdido".

      Por las páginas de este libro transitan miembros de la nobleza y de las casas reales más relevantes del momento, junto con aristócratas, vividores, oportunistas y advenedizos, personajes variopintos que gastan a manos llenas y derrochan en falsas apariencias. "El rey de los maricas. Vida y leyenda del infante Luis Fernando de Orleans" encierra una lectura apasionante que refleja con todo lujo de detalles el ambiente de decadencia y exceso que protagoniza un sector social privilegiado de comienzos del pasado siglo.


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