Humiliated by the government of Louis Philippe, he embarked on several hare-brained schemes to bring his plans to fruition, but they ended in failure, ultimately resulting in his being confined in the prison of Ham for almost six years. Rather than bewailing his fate, he nurtured his ambition for the future of France, studying and writing extensively, and preparing schemes for the betterment of the country when he eventually achieved his aim.
Later, following his escape from Ham, he settled for a while in England where one statesman commented, "Did you ever know such a fool as that fellow is? Why, he really believes he will yet be Emperor of France!"
Even his friend, the Duke of Cambridge, remarked, "...I think he has not enough to carry him through so vast an undertaking, and that he will consequently break down in the attempt of making himself Emperor…which he is evidently driving at."
Ultimately, though, he proved his critics wrong when, in December 1851, he staged a coup d'etat and had himself declared Emperor.
The tragedy was that, while he worked tirelessly for the good of his people, ill-health plagued him and power gradually slipped through his hands, as his ministers rejected his attempts at to maintain an autocracy; and his final defeat at Sedan owed almost as much to his debilitating illness as it did to the superiority of the Prussian forces.
My new book, "Queen Victoria & The French Royal Families" (available in paperback and Kindle formats) includes his story as well as that of his predecessor, King Louis Philippe, and their relationship with the British Royal Family.