She achieved notoriety as the French queen who suggested her starving subjects should eat cake if they had no bread.
While that story might be apocryphal, what is undeniable is that Marie Antoinette was dragged into a raging scandal - four years before the French Revolution - and this irreparably tarnished the French royalty's image, earned them the label of tyrants and was one of the factors that led to the events of 1789, said author Jonathan Beckman at a session of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2015.
The affair involved a foreign queen never at home in the formal atmosphere of the French court, an ambitious clergyman willing to go to any ends to achieve his desire of high political office, a noble-born conwoman skilled at pretending to be more influential than she was, and jewellers who created an expensive 'masterpiece' but couldn't sell it off, said Beckman.
Beckman revisits in How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette, the Stolen Diamonds and the Scandal that Shook the French Throne the 1785 scandal that has been dealt with by Thomas Carlyle and Alexander Dumas and which has inspired at least two Hollywood films.
He says the real force behind the scam was Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois (seen in pic) who devised it to ensure a comfortable life for herself.
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Text: Vikas Datta, IANS