In 1870 the Prince Imperial had to flee from France with the Imperial Family and settled in England at Chislehurst, Kent. On his father's death the Bonapartists proclaimed him Napoleon IV. During the 1870s there was some talk of a marriage between him and Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice.
He served as an officer in the British Army and volunteered to join the British expedition to Zululand. While out on reconnaissance he was surprised by Zulus and speared to death at Ulundi. His death sent shock waves throughout Europe as he was the last dynastic hope for the restoration of the Bonapartes to the throne of France.