It’s a secret that I only let people in on, once I have known them for a while, and I’m sure that they won’t smirk. I thought that it was about time that I let you in on it.
My middle name is (deep breath…) Marie-Antoinette. Yes, you heard correctly – Marie-Antoinette – it’s right there on my birth certificate. I was named after a French queen who had her head chopped off. Except that I wasn’t exactly. My parents claim that I was named after my rather less well known Uncle Anthony and his then girlfriend Mary – my Godparents. (Although logically, this means that my middle-name should be closer to Marc Antony – as in the Roman political general – which I suppose doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.)
I have no idea what makes two first generation immigrants from the Caribbean, living in 1970’s London, and with no particular passion for French history let alone any connection to France, come up with the grand name of Marie-Antoinette. It certainly didn’t suit the sartorial failures of my early years as a 70’s kid running around in tartan flares and double denim.
I used to think that it was a subliminal thought whispered into my pregnant mother’s ear by the spirit of the French Queen herself – perhaps predicting in the then unborn ‘me’, a predetermined love of chandeliers, decorative antiques, french linen and dainty French pastries!
Regardless, that’s the middle name that they gave me, and it naturally encouraged an intense obsession with my namesake from an early age. I’ve read the biographies, own the DVD’s, and have visited the palaces. It was the cause of much mirth and ribbing at my all girls Convent School, and was NEVER revealed at University. But while it is something that I have rarely disclosed, it is also something that I have always secretly rather liked.
If one can forget the many negative connotations that the iconic but ill fated Queen has historically endured, particularly when it comes to empathy and extravagance (by the way, she apparently never did utter the infamous phrase “Let them eat cake” when faced with a starving nation!) and focus instead on the amazing images, interior style, fashion influence and romantic colour palette that we associate her with instead, then you are left with a pretty beautiful legacy.
Is Queen Marie-Antoinette the real reason that I have a love of old houses, history & historical figures, ALL things French and of course pretty shoes?
I think that I’ve even spotted a few traits of her in my own home. And yes I do eat cake. Lots of it.
Do you have an embarrassing or inspiring namesake? I’d love to hear about it.
Have a glorious weekend!
Images courtesy of; 1)Marie Antoinette Film (2006) by Sofia Copella; 2)Marie Antoinette 1762; 3)Daytime Salon at Versailles; 4)Empress’s Bedroom at the Grand Trianon, Versailles; 4)Marie Antoinette a la Rose(1782) Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, Musee National du Chateau de Versailles; 5)Marie Antoinette (1769) Joseph Ducreux as Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria 7)Elle Decor 8)Elle Decor; 9)Veranda; 10)Elle Decor; 11)Veranda; 12)Marie Antoinette Film; 13)My shoes!