Marie Antoinette’s affection for both her female friends waned once she had children (though it took her husband years to consummate their marriage). Another friend claimed that later in life Marie Antoinette also said that “when a sovereign raises up favourites in her court she raises up despots against herself.” It’s true that Polignac in particular occasionally had political opinions the Queen did not agree with, but beyond that, both she and Lamballe seemed astonishingly devoted – especially when public opinion turned against the queen.
Towards the end of her life, the Duchesse deÂ Polignac went abroad to visit her friend Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire. She enjoyed a very happy life there and came to be known as “Little Po.”
However, she was returned to the French court during the months leading up to the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the reign of terror. She was part of the monarchist movement, and supposedly was involved in intrigues (spying, not sexing) with King Louis’ younger brother. Maybe sexing, too, I don’t know.
Meanwhile, Marie Antoinette, at the time, complained “no one comes to my card parties.”
That is perhaps because it was obvious to everyone at court that Marie Antoinette was so unpopular with the public they they wanted her dead. This goes back to what I said about Marie Antoinette not being terribly bright.
Polignac, unlike Marie Antoinette, who was executed during the reign of terror, managed to flee the court with her family immediately after the Bastille was stormed. She spent the rest of her life in Switzerland, and died there in 1793, shortly after hearing about the death of Marie Antoinette. At the time, it was said that she died of heartbreak, though today, it’s commonly thought to have been cancer.
It was a happier end than the one Lamballe experienced.