STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Eleanor Beardsley sends this report.
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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man #1: (Latin spoken)
BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man #2: (French spoken)
BEARDSLEY: They came at night with their torches and clubs, he says, to carry out the most abominable of sacrileges. Harold Hyman, a long time journalist who takes a special interest in the French Royalists, says the group has no chance of bringing back the monarchy.
HAROLD HYMAN: So they take this weird political posture - a sort of anti-progress protest against the modern world and mass culture and television and American influence, and this is, I think, what unites them all.
BEARDSLEY: Royalists say the French Revolution was ruthless, not glorious, and that Louis XVI was a progressive king with vision. After all, he did send his general, the Marquis de Lafayette, to help some unruly colonists throw off their British oppressors. Retiree Marie-Noelle Erre(ph) explains why she's a monarchist.
MARIE: It's the monarchy that built the country. If it hadn't been for the revolution, there would have been an evolution with time. Beside that, King Louis XVI was a very good king.
BEARDSLEY: The Royalists are deeply divided over who is the legitimate successor to the French throne. But that question is not pertinent, for now anyway, says Dominique Emele(ph), the director of the Alliance Royale, the monarchist political party. The Royalists have practically no political support and no members in parliament, but Emele believes that one day the Party will be able to convince the French to restore a constitutional monarchy.
DOMINIQUE EMELE: (Through translator) One of the biggest problems in France today is that our president is the head of a political party. So he doesn't represent all the French. Only a king can truly represent the people, unify the nation, and solve the long-term problems of France.
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BEARDSLEY: Back at the Basilica of Saint Denis, the mass closes with a requiem. The church where Joan of Arc once prayed now lies in the middle of a gritty immigrant suburb. Sixty five-year-old Michel Simoneaux(ph) emerges from the 18th century atmosphere inside the Basilica and comes face to face with modern day France.
MICHEL SIMONEAUX: (French spoken)
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
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