The next king of France an Indian? Maybe.
To most people in Bhopal, the central Indian city where he lives, Balthazar Bourbon IV is a lawyer who is the fourth person in his family with unusual first and last names for an Indian. But Bourbon grew up being told that he was a descendent of the last French royal line and a recently released book says as much.
"Le Rajah de Bourbon," a historical novel by Prince Michael of Greece, says Balthazar Bourbon may be a descendent of Henry IV, the first Bourbon king of France, and traces his ancestry through a nephew of the king, Jean Bourbon, who arrived in India at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1560.
Balthazar Bourbon said in a telephone interview Monday that this is a fact that he has "always known," and that once his ancestry is recognized by the European line of the family, he would be the closest living relative of the last king.
That means that if the French monarchy were ever restored an unlikely event the 48-year-old lawyer would have a serious claim to the throne.
But for now, Bourbon is leading what he calls the "commoner's life" he has always led in Bhopal.
Still, he has surrounded himself with all things European. His wife Elisha is part Dutch. His children are named Fredrick, Michelle and Adrian. And even though he doesn't speak French, he's made sure that his children have learned.
"From the day I was born, I was told that I belonged to a royal family. I'm proud of that," Bourbon said.
Jean Bourbon's descendants drifted in the 18th century to what was then a princely state centered in Bhopal, which today is in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Balthazar said.
"My grandfather Balthazar Bourbon I was a prime minister of the state of Bhopal in the early 18th century. The Bourbons here lived a glamorous life there because of their stature," he said.
But jealousy against the Roman Catholic family grew at the Muslim court of Bhopal and over time the family's fortune dwindled, Bourbon said.
Since the book's release, Bourbon has been flooded with phone calls from reporters, he said.
Prince Michael visited last month and invited him to France, and he will visit soon, he said, reports AP.
Beyond that, Bourbon isn't sure what will happen. Perhaps a DNA test and a meeting with other Bourbons.
"I'm not desirous of any fortune but if I'm truly the legitimate heir of the Bourbon family then I should get the recognition," he said.