Baron Antoine Raymond Camille de Varaigne and the Versailles Connection

I found it interesting to see that Antoine Raymond Camille de Varaigne, husband of Mary Thorn, became a favourite of Napoleon 111, considering his rather rocky start eloping with her. Colonel Thorn initially forbade them from marrying, but eventually relented, and de Varaigne became the Emperor’s chamberlain. In 1860, he was promoted to Prefect de Palais. This was 30 years after after he and Mary married and all was forgiven for their indiscretion.

Empress Eugenie mentions de Varaigne in letters to Jane Thorn de Pierres, her lady in waiting.

[1857] I’ve only taken three baths, which saddens me because the good weather is passing, but I have a cold that prevents me from doing so, if tomorrow I’m better, I’m thinking of starting again. Besides, we lead here, to Varaigne’s great despair, too sedentary a life. The sea air makes him unrecognizable, he wants parties every day. Also we fear the baths for him because his increasing restlessness will turn on him like a squirrel. 

And sadly she mentions him again when writing to Jane about the death of her husband.

My dearest Jane, just a month ago the Emperor left us forever here on earth, God delivered this so cruelly tried soul but in leaving he delivered my heart . This already sad house is desolate because it was to distract him that we tried to make noise around him, now all is silence and mourning . He didn’t know that his faithful Varaigne had preceded him by a few days, we hid his death from him because I knew how much he loved him. Each day strips a friend and the very memory of happy days is lost in mourning and misfortune. I can no longer look back, I dare not look forward, my horizon is lost in this painful present . My dear son[The Imperial Prince] is very unhappy too, we will both shake hands with you and yours, Eugenie”

And here is mention of his elevation to Prefect of the Palace, which was essentially a governer’s position, overseeing the police, defence, immigration etc.

The Prefects of the Palace were civil officers under the Great Marshal’s control. There were originally four of them, each receiving £400 a year, and they did duty in rotation, for a week at a time in Paris, and for a month when the Court was elsewhere. Among those who filled these prefectoral offices at various times were Counts de Lawcestine and Merle, Barons Morio de lisle, de Menneval, de Maussion, de Varaigne-Dubourg and de Montbrun…

Antoine-Raymond-Camille de Varaigne kept an address in Paris at rue de l’Université, n° 3, but also had a residence in Versailles, where his family were situated.

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