It is a great honour for me to receive this croix d'officier from the hands of Monsieur le Grand Chancelier, as one would have said during the Empire. Even more so to receive it in these prestigious surroundings where the memory of the founder of the Order of the Légion d'honneur is ever-present.
(Addressing the Grand Chancelier, Général d'Armée Kelche)
I thank you, Monsieur le Grand Chancelier, for having allowed this ceremony to take place here and for having agreed to present this decoration yourself.
I am as honoured by this gesture as I am touched.
(Addressing the Princess Napoleon)
the presence of Your Imperial Highness this evening contributes in the greatest possible manner to the joy of today.
I am reminded once again of the moment at your home, in Prangins, on 11 November 1996, when the late Prince Napoleon presented me with the insignia of Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.
This evening I am moved by the thought of Prince Louis. For more than half a century he honoured me with his trust and his friendship. I shall never forget the encouragement and support that he gave me: first of all during the war, and then, later on, in my activities relating to the Souvenir Napoléonien both in France and abroad.
Ladies and gentlemen, for my entire life these Napoleonic activities have been not only a familial preoccupation but a personal passion for me.
I have had the chance to pursue them as part of a marvellous association that is, of course, the Souvenir Napoléonien. When I first arrived it was Dr. Godlewski who was president and tonight I acknowledge the presence of his wife, Gisèle, who has always been exceedingly active in the Souvenir Napoléonien. I then succeeded the Doctor after he was taken from us so prematurely.
This involvement was intensified with the creation of the Fondation Napoléon, thanks to the generosity of the dearly missed Martial Lapeyre and the technical assistance of Maître Philippe Bern, present today. Lastly, I was president of this Fondation for nearly twenty years.
As part of these two institutions, I have had the great joy to work with men and women who share the same passion. I could not possibly mention them all, but many of them are here tonight. It is, without doubt, this collective effort more than my individual person that is today honoured.
(Addressing the Prince d'Essling)
In addressing my successor to the presidence of the Fondation Napoléon, my friend Victor-André Masséna, I present to them all once again my sincere thanks.
(Addressing his family)
And of course, I could not finish without turning my gaze to those closest to me, that is, my family.
Of course, my wife, Monique, so attentive. She has, through her works of art, found a captivating means of fueling our exchanges with subjects other than the history of our two emperors. We have received into our home Monique's artistic friends, who have become, in turn, my artistic friends, such as Fernando Botero and his wife Sophia Vari, who happily are present here tonight.
Lastly, I have been blessed with a son. My son, named, like me, Napoleon, as is the family tradition. He lives his life fully in his own time, but is none the less aware of his roots, and, dare I say it, the value of the name that he bears.
To you all, I cannot thank you enough for being present here tonight to share with me this so poignant a moment.