Madame Adelaide of Versailles: A Complex Tapestry of Relationships

Step into the glamorous world of the Royal Court of Versailles, where the enigmatic Madame Adelaide took centre stage. Well, for a time, at least. As the eldest surviving daughter of Louis XV, her life was a whirlwind of alliances, rivalries, and unexpected twists. Get ready to unravel the captivating relationships that shaped her journey through power and influence.

Sisterhood and solidarity

Picture Madame Adelaide and her sisters, a force to be reckoned with! Madame Victoire and Madame Sophie stood by her side through the crazy ups and downs of court life. Together, they formed an unbreakable trio, earning the nickname “Mesdames Tantes” from Marie Antoinette herself. In the chaotic world of the court, their bond provided strength and support amidst the ever-shifting alliances and political drama.

The king’s darling

Ah, the apple of her father’s eye. With her wit and smarts, Madame Adelaide won over Louis XV’s heart and became his favourite child (shh, don’t tell the others). This gave her unprecedented influence within the royal family, allowing her to navigate the treacherous corridors of power and make her voice heard on matters of state.

Keeping the power

Madame Adelaide of Versailles never married. She was a total powerhouse, deeply involved in politics and dedicated to her role in the royal court. She chose to prioritise her responsibilities and saw marriage as a potential distraction. Now, as the eldest sister, she held about as much power as a woman in her time could have hoped to have. French law in the day dictated that if she were to marry, she would have to give up her title to take on her husband’s, which would ultimately mean a demotion. Plus, she had an amazing bond with her sisters, especially Madame Victoire and Madame Sophie. With their support, she didn’t feel the need for a husband by her side.

The world of French court politics was a wild ride, with all sorts of matchmaking shenanigans going on. Finding a suitable match that met her status and political needs was quite a challenge.

Instead of saying “I do,” Madame Adelaide focused on her family, her political endeavours, and her charitable work. She embraced the single life and made a lasting impact on history. So, while love may not have been in the cards for her, she shone brightly in her own unique way. Queen of independence!

A rollercoaster relationship with Marie Antoinette

Enter Marie Antoinette, the young and vibrant Austrian princess. With her seasoned court experience, Madame Adelaide takes her under her wing and becomes her BFF.

In the beginning, their friendship was like a fairytale. Adelaide mentored Marie Antoinette, showing her the ropes of court life, teaching her the art of politicking, and helping her navigate the treacherous waters of Versailles. They giggled over fashion choices, swapped secrets, and had each other’s backs.

But alas, trouble was brewing on the horizon and came in the form of the French Revolution. As tensions mounted, Madame Adelaide’s traditional and conservative views clashed with Marie Antoinette’s more progressive ideas. 

Adelaide, being rooted in the old ways of the monarchy, was cautious and resistant to change. She believed in upholding the traditions and values of the royal court. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, had a rebellious streak and embraced more liberal notions. She was seen as a symbol of excess and frivolity by some, which didn’t sit well with Adelaide’s conservative mindset.

As the revolution gained momentum, the friendship between Adelaide and Marie Antoinette faced strain. Their once-harmonious bond was tested, and their differing viewpoints created tension. It was like watching a Shakespearean drama unfold in the grand halls of Versailles.

The French Revolution eventually tore apart the world they knew.

Revolution and it’s aftermath

When the revolution erupted, Madame Adelaide’s world turned upside down. Along with her sisters, she was confined to the Tuileries Palace, far removed from the lavishness of Versailles. The once-amicable bond between Adelaide and Marie Antoinette crumbled amidst the tumultuous political chaos and the unforgiving blade of the guillotine.

In the walls of the Tuileries Palace, Adelaide and Marie Antoinette found themselves sharing a similar fate. Cut off from the grandeur they had once known, they faced the harsh realities of a revolution that shook the very foundations of the monarchy. Adelaide witnessed the heartbreaking downfall of her former friend, ultimately leading to Marie Antoinette’s execution.

Legacy and lasting impact

Madame Adelaide’s influence didn’t end with her life. She left a lasting legacy through her dedication to charity and education. She played a key role in establishing the Ecole Militaire, a school that provided education and support to orphaned girls. Her philanthropic efforts and commitment to social causes continued to make a difference long after the monarchy fell.

Madame Adelaide’s life at Versailles was a captivating tapestry of relationships, both harmonious and tumultuous. Her unbreakable bond with her sisters, her cherished position with the king, and her complicated connection with Marie Antoinette all shaped her extraordinary journey. 


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