A newly elected MP for Marine Le Pen’s resurgent far-right National Rally party has been sued by the descendants of one of France’s oldest aristocratic families who accuse him of adding their name to his own.
Emmanuel Taché de la Pagerie, 47, was one of dozens of National Rally MPs voted into the National Assembly on Sunday, with his official ID verified and approved by the local authorities in the southern city of Marseille.
Born Emmanuel Taché in the working-class Paris suburb of Montreuil, he told Le Monde newspaper this week that he added “de la Pagerie” to his passport 30 years ago, when he worked in fashion and broadcasting before entering politics.
“It’s perfectly normal in the art and communication sectors to use a pen name or preferred name. The only restriction is that you can’t pass it on to your children,” Taché de la Pagerie’s lawyer Alexandre Varaut said in a statement.
He said his client’s use of the name “has been public knowledge for several decades”.
The male line of the Tascher de la Pagerie family died out in 1993, but three descendants sued the deputy this week, alleging their historic name had been appropriated.
The most famous member of the family was the Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, who married Napoléon Bonaparte in 1796. Her full name was Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie.
While not illegal under French law, the use of aristocratic surnames can be a prickly subject.
Critics of former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing sniped about his grandfather’s acquisition of the noble-sounding “de” (“of”) particle, though few ever did for fellow commoner Charles de Gaulle.
It was an unwelcome dispute for Taché de la Pagerie’s party days after it scored a major parliamentary breakthrough.
“We have filed a complaint to protect the family name,” Frederic Pichon, a lawyer for the three women, told AFP, adding that a date for hearings would be set on 8 July.
They are seeking a symbolic one euro in damages, and a fine of 500 euros a day if Emmanuel Taché continues to use their name.
“The fact that he’s in the National Rally or France Unbowed or the Republic on the Move isn’t the problem,” he said, referring to the far left and the centrists of President Emmanuel Macron.
He said the aristocratic name was rare and noted “a risk of confusion in the eyes of the public,” even if the Taché /Tascher spellings are different.
“My clients are from Normandy but live in Paris, and are the sole heirs to have this name since the death of their father in 1993 – and one of his final wishes was that his name be protected,” Pichon said.
Emmanuel Taché de la Pagerie did not respond to requests for comments, but told Le Monde that having just been elected, “I don’t have time to waste on this type of stuff”.