Napoleon’s relatives sue far-right MP for ‘rare’ name change

Descendents of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais — the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte — are taking a French MP to court for using their family name without permission. 

Emmanuel Taché, who won his seat in last weekend’s French legislative election for the far-right National Rally party, has been adding the noble suffix “de la Pagerie” to his own name for the last 30 years.

But three members of the Tascher de la Pagerie family, the last of their line, say they promised their father on his death bed to protect the family name and that Monsieur Taché de la Pagerie must stop using it. 

“We have started an action for the protection of the patronymic name” before the judicial court of Nîmes, said Frédéric Pichon, the plaintiff’s lawyer. A hearing to set the trial date will be held on 8 July.

“My clients, who are originally from Normandy but live in Paris, are the only heirs to bear this name since the death of their father in 1993. And the latter had expressed in his last will and testament the wish that his name be protected,” the lawyer argued.

The plaintiffs are demanding a symbolic payment of €1 compensation or a €500 fine for Monsieur Taché for each day he continues calling himself de la Pagerie.

Politician Taché de la Pagerie told reporters this week there is nothing unusual in him changing his surname, and that he filled out the official interior ministry paperwork before becoming an election candidate listing his birth name — Emmanuel Taché — and the name he prefers to use – Emmanuel Taché de la Pagerie.

His lawyer says that Taché changed his name when he worked in media and fashion for Pierre Cardin as a young man and that the only restrictions were that he could not pass the name on legally to his children. 

The descendants of Empress Joséphine — whose birth name was Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie — say there is “a significant risk of confusion in the eyes of the public” with the far-right politician, even though the spellings of the two names are different.

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