"SINCE my arrival here the little town of Newhaven has been perfectly crowded by visitants. Every inn is full," wrote a correspondent of the Sussex Express in a dispatch detailing the arrival of the deposed King and Queen of France, Louis-Philippe I de Bourbon and Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, who had fled across the channel to the safety of Britain.
The report was published this week in 1848 in the News Letter and gave a fascinating insight in to how the King and Queen of France went about starting their exile in England having been forced to give up the splendour of the French court.
The French royal couple, the correspondent reported, found themselves staying at the Bridgehouse Hotel in Newhaven where they had arrived on March 2. The correspondent remarked: "The King and Queen dined at half past five last night and, notwithstanding their fatigue and anxieties, made a hearty repast. Count de Jarnac, the late French ambassador to the English court, arrived in a carriage from Brighton, and had an interview exceeding one hour in duration with their majesties."
During this meeting it was reported that Louis Philippe I, "clasping his hands as if overpowered by his emotions", began immediately to speak on the subject of the revolution in France which had lead to him being overthrown. He exclaimed: "Charles X was destroyed for breaking the Charter, and I have been overthrown for defending it, and for keeping my oath..."
On the morning of Saturday, March 3, wrote the correspondent, the King and Queen of France had arisen from bed at about eight o'clock. The correspondent noted: "Certainly when they appeared at the breakfast table I never saw a more striking change than the contrast presented to their appearance when they landed at Newhaven. The breakfast, of which their Majesties partook heartily, was prolonged by several arrivals from Brighton &c. Mr Laurence and Lady Jane Peel were the first who arrived." At 10 o'clock that morning Mr Packham introduced between 40 and 50 of the principal tradesmen of Brighton, Newhaven, and the neighbourhood to King Louis-Philippe I who was "heartily congratulated" on his safe arrival in England. The correspondent remarked: "The King of the French, who appeared much agitated and excited, replied nearly as follows – 'I am delighted, gentlemen, to see you. This is, indeed, most kind. I feel that I am safe in your great nation, under the protection of your excellent Queen. I thank you for your kind hospitality..." Meanwhile, the French Queen, "who appeared much affected", had remarked, "unconsciously clasping the bouquet between her hands with considerable force, 'Oh, indeed! indeed, it is kind – it is most kind!'" Shortly after breakfast his King Louis-Philippe I retired to a carriage which was waiting for him and with the Queen they proceeded "amidst the acclamations" of hundreds of persons who were assembled to the railway station where a special train was waiting. At 11 o'clock the train, "with the illustrious party", started for London, pulling up for a few moments at Lewes, where the French monarch was again "heartily cheered".
When the deposed King and Queen of the French arrived at the Croydon station at fifteen minutes past twelve that morning they were met by the Duke de Nemours, and the Duke and Duchess Auguste of Saxe Coburg, who had arrived from London earlier that morning to receive their "illustrious relatives".
The correspondent remarked: "The meeting of the Royal exiles, we need scarcely add, was of the most painfully affecting character."
The whole of the Royal party left the station in three private carriages for Claremont.
The correspondent wrote: "Her Majesty the Queen had offered to send her private carriages to convey the Royal party to Claremont, but the ex-King declined the proffered courtesy, preferring to travel in a private manner to his destination."
Once more as the King and Queen of the French left the station at Croydon they were "loudly cheered" by the few persons who had assembled.