Queens and Mistresses


Last week, many Parisians remained glued to their television sets for two nights in a row to watch Madame de Pompadour. As if that weren’t enough voyeurism into the royal households, Stephen Frears’ Queen has hit the Paris theaters with Helen Mirren providing a captivating interpretation of HRH at a very sad moment of recent English history – the tragic death of the former Princess Diana in a Paris car crash. (By the way, is the correct title ‘former’ or may we still say Princess?). It’s been a popular season for Queens and those associated with royal courts this year, starting with Marie Antoinette.

Sometimes I wonder why in France there is such an intense fascination with its royal history – and at the same time, a seemingly intense dislike for contemporary ‘aristocracy’ or anything that smells of ‘privilege’. If you see the movie Queen, much of the dialogue between Tony Blair and his wife Cherie is quite interesting from (an American point of view) about the differences in opinion regarding the whole issue of monarchy and privilege.

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Aside from that the film is a real gem – thanks to brilliant photography, editing and a first-rate musical score. Academy award? Yes, yes. Yes.

RE: Madame de Pompadour – (enacted by an aristocrat (with a ‘petit de’). She received kudos for her acting. But there was some disappointment about the focus on the love interests and not so much about all she accomplished at the court. If you read Nancy Mitford’s book Madame de Pompadour, you’re much more likely to get an in depth portrait of this fascinating woman and how she helped shape the culture and the arts of her time.


One thought on “Queens and Mistresses

  • Chris (forwarding post from Callista

    Hi There – –
    you posed a question in your blog the other day that a researcher cannot
    resist — how does one now refer correctly to the late, lamented Diana?
    Even in life, people usually got it wrong – the correct way to refer to
    her was:
    Diana, Princess of Wales   never “Princess Diana” — yet that was what
    most people called her anyway.   While married, she also held the form
    of address (& title) “Her Royal Highness.”  However, she may have been
    stripped of that precise title when divorced, although I think she
    retained her standing still as “Diana, Princess of Wales.”  If she did
    retain that position, even without the cute form of direct address, then
    I suppose one could refer to Diana, the late Princess of Wales, and be
    correct.  

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