To his parents and family he was Manoel Maria Filipe Carlos Amélio Luís Miguel Rafael Gabriel Gonzaga Francisco de Assis Eugénio. To his subjects he was ‘His Most Faithful Majesty Manoel II, King of Portugal and the Algarves, of either side of the sea in Africa, Lord of Guinea and of Conquest, Navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India, etcetera etcetera’. To his neighbours in Fulwell he was the first President of the Twickenham Piscatorial Society. To the rest of us he was the last King of Portugal.
The history of the Portuguese monarchy had always been a little bumpy. When Dom Henrique died in 1580 without an heir the Spanish King, Phillip II, marched in and took over. In 1668 the mentally unstable King Afonso VI was forced to step down by his smarter brother Pedro who locked him up in the Palacio Nacional where his constant pacing left marks on the floor still visible to this day. After the massive Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 the king at the time, José I, developed such severe claustrophobia that he was unable to organise a post-quake recovery and he handed control to the ambitious and tyrannical Marquês de Pompal.
When Napoleon invaded Portugal in 1807 the royal family fled to Brazil where they stayed for 14 years – 10 years longer than they needed to. When King João VI died in 1826 his 2 sons, Miguel and Pedro, started a civil war. Pedro won but died from consumption in 1834 a few months after his victory… and there was worse yet to come. On 1st February 1908, when the latest set of royals were riding through Lisbon in an open carriage two republican activists, Alfredo Costa and Manoel Buiça, stepped forward and fatally shot the King, Carlos, and his son and heir Prince Luis Felipe. The King’s next son, 18 year old Prince Manoel, who was wounded in the arm, was declared King. It was to be a short reign.
Two years later, on the 5th October 1910, he was deposed by a republican uprising. He and his mother, Amélie of Orleans, made a swift exit on the royal yacht, first to Gibraltar and then to England where they settled in Abercorn House in Richmond. His mother, Amélie of Orleans, knew the area well as she had been born at York House, Twickenham in 1865. In September 1913 Manoel married the German Princess, Victoria Augusta of Hohenzolern, and together they settled in Fulwell Park. Like her new husband she also had many names – Auguste Viktoria Wilhelmine Antonie Mathilde Ludovika Josephine Maria Elisabeth and after her marriage she picked up an additional title ‘Her Most Faithful Majesty The Queen of Portugal and the Algarves.’
There weren’t too many ‘Crowned Heads of Europe’ knocking around these parts at the time and it wasn’t long before ‘His Most Faithful Majesty Manoel II, King of Portugal and the Algarves, of either side of the sea in Africa etcetera etcetera…’ and his wife Augusta became popular figures in the local community. To demonstrate their royal credentials, in 1914 Manoel and Augusta held a garden party in Fulwell Park where Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII, Princess Royal Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria and the Empress Marie of Russia, the mother of the last Russian Tsar Emperor, Nicholas II, attended as principal guests.
In between all this royal revelry Manoel, who was trying to recreate a little of the Portuguese ‘joie de vive’ in Fulwell, was busy as first President of the Twickenham Piscatorial Society and supporter of the Hampton Garden Society. On 22nd September 1926, when Twickenham celebrated its elevation from “Urban District” to “Municipal Borough”, Manoel played a prominent part in the celebratory parades which finished at York House, where his mother had been born 60 years earlier. He helped raise funds for the building of St. Mary’s Church Hall, sponsored St James’ Catholic Church in Pope’s Grove where he worshipped -installing a window honouring St Anthony of Padua bearing his family Braganza crest – and contributing £20 to the establishment of Twickenham Museum. During the 1st World War Manoel, a committed Anglophile, worked with the British Red Cross and was responsible for the creation of the Orthopedic Department at Shepherd’s Bush Hospital treating war wounded. His friend and fellow monarch, George V, acknowledged his contribution by inviting him to take part in the victory parade of soldiers in 1919.
With the benefit of the considerable fortune that he brought with him from Portugal – and with no children to spend it on – Manoel and Augusta enjoyed a pleasant life in Fulwell Park where he died on July 2nd 1932 from a sudden and unexpected oedema of the throat. After a requiem mass at Westminster Cathedral, his body was shipped, with the approval of the Portuguese P.M Antonio Salazar, back to Lisbon on the British cruiser ‘HMS Concord’. Large crowds gathered in Praça do Comércio to welcome him home and escort his body to the Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza in the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora where it was interred.
In 1934 Fulwell Park was sold and eventually demolished to make room for housing – but the memory of ‘His Most Faithful Majesty Manoel II, King of Portugal and the Algarves, of either side of the sea in Africa, blah blah’ is still commemorated as Manoel Road, Lisbon Avenue, Augusta Road and Portugal Gardens. The four-ton safe that used to hold the royal jewellery at Fulwell Park is now housed in St Mary’s Church, Hampton. Unfortunately the fortune that was once stored within has now gone.
Viva Portugal! Viva el-Rei Dom Manuel II!
A Salute to Manoel – the last King of Portugal
— from Martyn Day