NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

'Napoleon Bonaparte's sister's slippers' found in Aberdeen

Louise Wilkie with the slippers
Image caption The slippers have been put on display for the public

A pair of slippers believed to have once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte's sister have been uncovered in Aberdeen.

Louise Wilkie, of the University of Aberdeen's museum team, was tasked with cleaning and sorting through a collection.

Her research led her to link the owner of the slippers and the famous French military leader's sister Princess Pauline Borghese.

The small silk and leather slippers are now on display.

The collection in question belonged to the Banff-born medical graduate and traveller Robert Wilson.

The slippers were in a chest of clothes and were marked on the sole with 'Pauline Rome'.

Ms Wilkie said: "Robert Wilson left his collection of objects from his extensive travels to the museum in his will in 1871.

"In a list of the objects donated by Wilson is the description of 'A pair of slippers - Pauline, Rome Jan 20th 1824'.

"I began to look at other archival material held by the university and found that Wilson had a friendship with Princess Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte."

Image caption Napoleon's sister was linked to the slippers at the university

She explained: "Letters from him to Pauline show a close friendship and in his diary he describes how she spent a lot of time with him travelling in Italy and gave him many gifts, including a ring which is also held in the museum collections.

"The relationship between Wilson and Princess Pauline can only be speculated upon, however records do indicate some form of attraction and attachment.

"He kept the gifts she had given him for life and then they passed to the University collections.

"It is amazing to think the slippers have been here all this time but their significance was never fully realised. I was delighted to make a discovery of this kind."

'Great detective work'

Neil Curtis, head of museums at the University of Aberdeen, said: "The university holds huge collections and many of the items given to us over the years do not have full descriptions.

"It was a great piece of detective work from Louise to piece together the fascinating history behind the slippers.

"We are delighted that these significant objects are now on display and can be enjoyed by the public for the first time."

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