Take it from the Queen: Don’t get too comfortable

She’s Baa-aack. Your blogmistress had been away completing her graduate studies. That’s finished now and she can get back to what’s really important, assisting the Queen of France with her Sunday advice blog. If you have a question for the queen, send an email to whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

My Queen,
My boss will retire next year and I think I’m a shoo-in for the spot. My boyfriend isn’t so sure since there are a few people at my same level, even though none have been working at this company as long as me. He’s telling me to step up things up and that just feels silly to me. What do you think?
-The Heir Apparent

We’ve all done it. We get a little too fat and happy, a little too convinced of our own awesomeness. We just don’t usually do it as I did, while fleeing for my life. When myself and Louis XVI attempted to escape the Tuileries Palace in 1791 during the French Revolution, we did it in the most casual way possible. And by that, I mean in an RV.

This is no knock on the RV. They are fine vehicles and a great way to see a country. It’s just that they aren’t exactly high-speed chase vehicles, even ones as top-of- the-line as the royal family’s, outfitted with a cooker, a larder, and a canteen that held 8 bottles of wine. To enhance the scheme’s ninja-like agility, that berlin was accompanied by another vehicle, a cabriolet, and together they were drawn by a total of 9 horses. The only thing missing, seemingly, was a drum major, fife player or high school marching band to announce our arrival.

So the harrowing escape that would save the monarchy was really an ambling drive into the country. In total, 11 people made the trip, including a governess and 2 waiting women. I brought with me a walnut traveling case I’d ordered just for the occasion[1] that was part lap desk and part picnic basket, complete with candlesticks and silver plates and goblets[2] from silversmith Jean-Pierre Charpenat.[3] As revolutionaries chased us fugitives, we snacked and took bathroom breaks. We stopped so the children could chase butterflies and Louis XVI could chat up peasants about the harvest. At one point, the carriage slowed to a walking pace so that I could walk arm in arm with Louis behind the carriage and the two of us could stretch our legs.[i]

You might hesitate to judge, since you’ve never abdicated a throne myself. Still, it’s safe to say that these were the types of mistakes you wouldn’t make if you had even a passing understanding of words like “urgency” and “life or death.” We found ourselves so far behind schedule that the people who were trying to help use thought the escape had been cancelled and the people who were trying to capture us had actually caught up. By the time we arrived in Varennes, the guards for the fresh horses they’d need had gone to bed or to the bar. The fugitives missed these horses by 30 minutes and the group wandered fruitlessly throughout the town, wondering what the heck happened.

Modern gals should remember that not even absolutism was a given for Marie and Louis. I think it’s fair to say we got too comfortable and took our roles for granted. We didn’t imagine the hatred brewing for us in the countryside and lost the monarchy to the revolution. Modern Maries take note: No queen, historical or otherwise, enjoys a luck so guaranteed that she can forget to hustle for her own survival.

Did the queen get it right? What would you advise?


[1] As if ordering a traveling case when people think you are going to escape isn’t the 18th century version of leaving your resume in the copier.

[2] If you’re planning your own ill-fated journey, replicas of these goblets are available from the Versailles gift shop at 36 Euros apiece.

[3] In true Marie Antoinette fashion, I actually ordered two of these traveling cases because I thought it would look less conspicuous.

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2 Responses to Take it from the Queen: Don’t get too comfortable

  1. Oh only too informative & full of wisdom as only the Queen could give it ! Take heed ye fat and comfortable….never believe your own hype…..and don’t rest on your laurels as my mother would say :) xoxo, Paulette

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