I mean, she was obviously unclever in a lot of ways that accompanied being a flighty Austrian princess married to a man who very probably had Asperger’s. One example often cited to prove that she wasn’t bright was that, as a child, Marie Antoinette refused to do her lessons and made her tutors finish all of them for her (which they did, out of fear of being fired). Historians often say that this lack of schooling and intellectual aptitude was a factor in her downfall. I’m inclined to think the opposite. I mean, making your tutors do all your lessons isn’t very nice, but it seems to indicate a kind of natural cunning that I’m surprised didn’t present itself later in life.
But regardless. Marie Antoinette was very nice. No, really, she was. I’m not saying that in a “I think that comment about ‘let them eat cake’ was very body-positive and woman-friendly and widely misinterpreted” way. I’m saying that because once when a postilion was injured, she waited with him for a surgeon for an hour. When a peasant was gored during a royal hunt, she sent him to the doctor in her private carriage. She was a nice lady, basically.
A nice wholly uneducated lady who could barely write and just loved cake too much.
And it was no wonder that a woman with her gentle disposition craved female friendships. She wasn’t going to be one of those ladies who is like “oh, no, all my friends are guys. Guys that I’ve slept with. And then dumped. Because I’m Batman.” She was the opposite of one of those ladies (they prefer to be called ‘gentlewomen’). That was especially true given that Marie Antoinette had such a close relationship with her sister Maria Carolina (historians say Marie Antoinette was never lonely as she was never alone).
And so, when she came to Versailles, she quickly began looking for someone to help her adjust to her new surroundings, especially important because her transition to Versailles meant that Marie Antoinette was stripped of all traces of her Austrian upbringing. In addition to giving up her language (and she was never very good at French!), she gave up her possessions as she wasn’t allowed to carry anything to the new court (though her lapdog was ultimately returned to her).
The Princesse de Lamballe – heiress to the greatest fortune in France – was seen as the perfect person to become her BFF.