Wanted: Napoleon Impersonator Required on Island of St Helena

Napoleon impersonator required
Napoleon impersonator required

To commemorate the anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, the island where he died has an unusual job posting.

St. Helena is a remote island in the middle of the south Atlantic Ocean, 2,500 miles east of South America and 1,210 miles west of southern Africa. It is a British territory most known for being the place where Napoleon died in May 1821.

As part of the activities surrounding this anniversary, the island is seeking a “shortish” male to impersonate the famous emperor.

Candidates should be “well-presented” and should be able to interact with all visitors, “especially dignitaries,” during the events the island is hosting. French speakers are preferred and the costume is provided for the temporary unpaid role.

According to Sophia Joshua, the tourism officer for St. Helena, the advertisement first went out on August 29th and they have already had someone in to try on the costume. The island had someone in the role so they already had a custom outfit made which they still have. However, the impersonator left the island so they are needing someone to take over in time for the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death.

She is hoping they find someone local to take the role since there will be many events for the Napoleon impersonator to appear at during the anniversary. The hope is that the anniversary will attract a number of tourists to the island. According to the ad, candidates must be available for all events in 2019 through 2021.

Napoleon continues to be of interest to historians and military buffs. During his reign, he was equally feared and celebrated for his tactics and successes on the battlefield and in politics. He acquired a number of nicknames – most related to his diminutive stature, like, “the Tiny Tyrant,” “Little Boney,” and “the Little Corporal.”

After his loss at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena. He lived there from October 1815 until he died six years later.

He lived at Longwood House about four miles from the capital of St. Helena, Jamestown. The locals claim that he cut holes in the shutters so that he could look out the windows without being seen.

There is some debate as to how Napoleon died. The autopsy by Napoleon’s physician claimed that he died from stomach cancer. There are others who believe he was poisoned with arsenic by his British guard.

The island opened an airport in 2017. Before that time, the only way to reach the island was to sail for five nights from Cape Town.

September 27 is the deadline for hopefuls to apply for the position. So far, according to Joshua, most of the interest in the job has been from the British media.

The island is temperate in climate, having warm summers and winters that are only slightly cooler. It mainly consists of volcanic rock though volcanic activity is extinct on the island. A semicircle rim of mountains gets nearly 30 inches of rain per year while the sea level areas of the island get 8 inches a year.

Most of the people living on the island are British with some of South and East Asian and African descent. English is the only language on the island. One-sixth of the population lives in the capital of Jamestown, the only town among the settlements there. Citizens of St. Helena are British citizens and the country shares a British-appointed governor with two other island nations, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

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Fishing and agriculture make up the main industries on the island. Two-thirds of the island’s budget is from a subsidy provided by the British government. Postage stamps and customs fees make up the rest of the country’s budget. Tourism wasn’t developed on the island until the 1990s.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE