Kaiserin Eugénie

Opening of the Zeugheer ball room

 

It is August 22, 1865. Your magnificent carriage makes its way at a leisurely pace along the promenade beside Lake Lucerne. The weather is truly glorious and you acknowledge the admiring views of the population.

You are one of Europe's best-known and highly placed couples: you, the French Empress Eugénie, and your husband, Emperor Napoleon III. Also with you is your nine-year-old son, Lulu. The carriage has reached its destination: before you stands the Lion Monument designed by the Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen.

The dying lion moves you deeply. The allegory commemorates the Swiss Guards massacred on 10 August 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Serving as part of the Royal Household of King Louis XVI, around 760 of the guards met their death defending the empty palace. An inscription bears the words «Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti» – To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss. You turn to your son, saying:

«Every man carries within him a world which is composed of all that he has seen and loved, and to which he constantly returns, even when he is travelling through, and seems to be living in, some different world.»

 

It is then time to return to the hotel. That evening sees the inauguration of the new ballroom, designed by Leonhard Zeugheer (1812-1866) – to the immense pride of the Hauser Family, proprietors of the hotel. You, Empress Eugénie, are dressed, with the help of two ladies in waiting, in a luxurious evening gown created by the court designer, Charles Frederick Worth; fashioned from silver tulle, it is adorned with pastel flowers and silver sequins. You look suitably beguiling. It does not escape the notice of your husband, who kisses you lightly on the cheek.

You make your way together into the new ballroom. Formidable! Such opulence, such magnificence, such elegance! You turn to the hotel proprietor: «Monsieur Hauser! Mes compliments! What an imposing room! It is as beautiful as any in France.» You and the Emperor then present him with a gift – a bottle of 1850 Grande Fine Champagne Cognac.

The Hauser Family will never broach this bottle, but will always cherish it.