Marie Antoinette’s love affair with Count Axel von Fersen has been the subject of rumors and speculation for centuries. However, historian Evelyn Farr claims she has proof the former Queen of France had a long-term affair with the Swedish diplomat. A series of letters, which are featured in Farr’s book I Love You Madly – Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen: The Secret Letters, also suggest von Fersen may have fathered two of the former queen’s children.
A native of Vienna, Austria, Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna was born to Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Austrian Empress Maria Theresa on November 2, 1755. At the age of 10, she was betrothed to Louis-Auguste — who was heir to the French throne. Five years later, Marie Antoinette married her fiancé and traveled to France to begin her new life.
Unfortunately, the teen had trouble adapting to married life and the expectations placed on her as Dauphin of France. As reported by Biography, letters between Marie and her mother suggest she was terribly homesick and dismayed with being thrust into the public spotlight.
With the death of Louis XV in 1774, Louis-Auguste was named Louis XVI King of France and Marie Antoinette became his queen. However, the couple continued to experience marital troubles.
Whereas Louis XVI was described as “introverted, shy and indecisive, a lover of solitary pleasures such as reading and metalwork” Marie Antoinette “was vivacious, outgoing and bold, a social butterfly who loved gambling, partying and extravagant fashions.”
In 1977, the queen’s brother reportedly traveled to France to counsel the royal couple — as they had not consummated their marriage. Marie announced she was pregnant with her first child, Marie Therese Charlotte, one year later.
— Marie Claire (@marieclaire) January 8, 2016
Although the details are unclear, Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen met in the late 1770s. People reports they were close friends for 10 years. However, their relationship turned physical in 1783 — and continued for the rest of her life.
Historian Evelyn Farr said her research confirmed rumors that Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen often met at her private retreat Petit Trianon.
Although it is impossible to confirm, Farr believes Marie’s youngest children, Louis Charles who was born in March of 1785 and Princess Sophie who was born in in July of 1786, were fathered by Count Axel von Fersen.
In her book, Evelyn Farr reveals the Queen of France and her lover often used an elaborate code system and invisible ink in their correspondence to cloak their intimate relationship. Although interpreting the letters was not an easy task, the historian eventually deciphered the codes. Farr shared the content of the love letters in I Love You Madly – Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen: The Secret Letters.
“I love you and will love you madly all my life… I am going to close, but not without telling you, my dear and very tender friend, that I love you madly and never, ever could I exist a moment without adoring you.”
Another letter, which was written by Quintin Craufurd to the then-British Prime Minister William Pitt and his Foreign Secretary Lord Grenville suggests von Fersen was, in fact, the father of Louis Charles.
— The_News_DIVA (@The_News_DIVA) January 1, 2016
Following the French Revolution and the National Convention’s abolition of the monarchy, King Louis XVI was arrested and charged with treason. As he was convicted of the accused crime, the former king was executed on January 21, 1793.
Nine months later, Marie Antoinette was charged with child molestation, theft, and treason. She was subsequently found guilty of all charges and executed on October 16, 1793.
Marie Antoinette’s love affair with Count Axel von Fersen, and the paternity of her two youngest children, are likely to remain a point of heated debate. However, Evelyn Farr believes she has found proof that the rumors are true.