Marie-Antoinette was known to show special kindness to women with child. One of her ladies-in-waiting, Madame de la Tour du Pin, who does not refrain from criticizing Marie-Antoinette when she sees fit, remarks in her Memoirs
on the Queen’s consideration towards her when she was expecting. There is also the famous story, included in my novel Trianon
, about how Marie-Antoinette got down on the floor to pick up the paints and brushes for Madame Vigée-Lebrun when the artist was in the family way. The Queen also founded a home for unwed mothers called the Maternity Society. And I recently came across a charming anecdote in which Marie-Antoinette helps a passing stranger who is with child. To quote:
When the expecting mother was about to sit down, the Queen called over a servant and said: “Go to my bedroom, and bring a cushion for this lady,” and then explained her gesture, saying, “Many cares are required when in your condition. This marble bench is too cold for you to sit down on.”
After which, a long and friendly conversation sprung up between one mother and the mother-to-be.
How sad that so many of the genuine accounts of the Queen’s charity are forgotten by history whereas falsehoods such as “Let them eat cake” are remembered forever.