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April 15, 2009

Remember, Elbows off the Table!

At Versailles the King and Queen would dine publicly. You may recall the awkward yet humorous dining moments from the 2006 movie, Marie Antoinette.

This tradition took place in the Queens antechamber, and both the public and members of the court would attend. Those traveling to Versailles from abroad made sure to make an appearance to the event. People did not just gather around the table and stare. They were allowed to walk through the rooms, checking out the decor and mirrors! It was like walking around a museum but they could not quite approach the dining table.

Standing between you, the viewer and the royal couple's spread, was a line of impenetrable Swiss guards. There were also guards at the main entrance making sure all that were attending the event were dressed in a presentable manner! So if you didn't wear your best, you may not be able to watch your sovereigns eat!

7 comments

  1. Does anyone else feel sorry that those poor people had to have their every function in life viewed?

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  2. even this they couldn't do with ease...always under scrupulous eyes...Thanks:)

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  3. I never understood why someone would want to go to watch others eat?!! I understand seeing the palace etc, but why watch them eat.

    On the note of "Elbows off the table" I did read somewhere that it is proper ettiquette, even today, in France to always have your hands above the table. It goes back to when men carried swords! If someone's hand was underneath the table it was thought as of as a threat, because they could be drawing their sword out. Interesting!

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  4. That is very interesting!! Makes sense too. Now we will all have to see how often we sit at the table with our hands below it. Trust no one!

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  5. I remember the scene from the movie on the protocol during dinner. It seemed absurd and must have been particularly awful for Marie Antoinette given that her upbringing was much more informal. I think I would have starved under such circumstances. No wonder she fled to the privacy of the Trianon as soon as she could.

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  6. I agree--such constant scrutiny would be very unappetizing to me. I can see why Antoinette didn't eat much.

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  7. I loved this part of the movie, I'm sure it was pretty accurate in telling how they really felt about the situation!

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