What made the famed Zulus regret the death of a French prince?

Answer: After France’s loss in the 1870 Franco Prussian war, Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, the son of the last French emperor, sought exile with his family in England.

Shunning luxury, the young French royal joined the British army. Keen to see action, in 1879 the now lieutenant, aged twenty two, successfully lobbied to be posted to South Africa, to participate in the Anglo-Zulu War, serving under Lord Chelmsford.

Known as the dare-devil prince, he was warned by a close army friend, “not to do anything rash and to avoid unnecessary risks.”

Volunteering for a scouting party, on the morning of June first, the prince, leading a small troop of British soldiers, was attacked by some 40 Zulus.

The British officer assigned to protect the young royal fled, while the Prince Imperial fought valiantly, but was overwhelmed by the assegai armed Zulus.

Seventeen spear wounds were later found in his body in his front, and none in his back, indicating that he had faced his adversaries bravely.

British General Sir Garnet Wolsely said the prince was a “plucky young man, who died a soldier’s death. What on earth could he have done better?”

The Zulu king Cetshwayo said if they had known who he was, they would have spared him.

Source: The Washing of the Spears by Donald R Morris

More at: History

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