x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The instant expert: Marie Antoinette

Float through any social event with M's fast facts. This week, the life and times of Marie Antoinette, guillotined on this day in 1793.

Float through any social event with M's fast facts. This week, the life and times of Marie Antoinette, guillotined on this day in 1793.

THE BASICS The wife of the French King Louis XVI, and the daughter of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. Also the subject of the eponymous 2006 film, starring Kirsten Dunst.

THE WOMAN Married at 14, she was woefully unprepared for wedlock, as was her husband. A courtier is said to have drawn him a diagram to assist him in his duties to his wife and the royal lineage. The couple eventually had four children.

THE LEGEND The original dumb blonde or a former-day feminist? She certainly liked a good time, and was best friends with the first English "It" girl, the Duchess of Devonshire. THE FASHION ICON Her love of lavish dresses and sumptuous hairstyles sowed the seeds of her fall, as a more regal appearance was expected of her. With admirable attitude for the time, she did her own thing when it came to dress.

THE CONVERSATION Did she really say "Let them eat cake" upon hearing that the French had no bread? Many historians say the words were uttered by Marie-Therese, the wife of Louis XIV, a hundred years earlier, and were actually "Let them eat brioche". Antonia Fraser, her biographer, called it a "callous and ignorant statement and she was neither". That it has stuck is probably down to the revolutionaries who spread vicious lies about the royals to debase them in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity.