Napoleon Bonaparte was emperor of France, an all-conquering hero to the French at the start of the nineteenth century. But one little known fact is the way in which he lost his virginity. It appears to have happened in a notoriously seedy area of Paris with the misleadingly grand title of – the Palais Royal.
A seedy encounter leads to his loss of virginity
Napoleon was 18 at the time and clearly a little anxious about his continuing virginity. After a night at the opera, the young future emperor was wandering through the Palais Royal when he spotted a prostitute.
I looked at her; she stopped, not with the impudent air common to her class, but with a manner that was quite in harmony with the charm of her appearance. This struck me. Her timidity encouraged me, and I spoke to her.Napoleon Bonaparte
With the typical nervousness of a virgin, Napoleon interrogated the woman about her occupation and how she felt about it until – probably a bit exasperated – the prostitute suggested that they get down to business.
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I describe this encounter in a recent episode of Private Lives – a documentary series made by Like A Shot productions and airing on UKTV in the UK and other channels around the world. You can watch the relevant clip below.