Of course, they are of royal origins (since the house is an offshoot of the Bourbons). Still, they could have become relegated to the status of an historical footnote, given how events unfolded. Instead, they've done a remarkable job of maintaining their traditions and remaining active on the royal scene -- contracting impressive dynastic marriages with both reigning and non-reigning houses.
Just look Princess Hélène (1871-1951): despite being a daughter of only a pretender, she was in serious contention for becoming the bride of the Duke of Clarence (Prince Eddy, born second and direct in line to the British throne). As it was, religion got in the way, as it did in the prospective match between her and the Russian czarevich (the future Czar Nicholas II). After all, her older sister became the queen of Portugal.
Members of the house seem to have always had great pride in their heritage, taking part in historical events at every opportunity. The most recent one coming to mind is the formal public apology issued by the current head of the house for his ancestor's actions, and hence partial responsibility, for the execution of King Louis XVI.
So it's no surprise that the Orléans have consistently been regarded as genuine royals, even though their house is no longer reigning (having lost their throne over 150 years ago, even before World War I).
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