The Grand-Couvert was a court ritual where the King and Queen would dine in public. Everyone could enter (no matter what class) as long as they were decently dressed. For men this meant that they had to carry a sword. Louis XIV did this ritual every day but Marie Antoinette was known for her dislike for the ritual; she would hardly eat anything and did not even want to remove her gloves.
Court etiquette meant that at the greater dinners the King was to invite the Queen, his children and his grandchildren formally. At lesser dinner services the King would eat alone. Normally the dishes were served on gold and silver plates and when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette held their dinner parties Sèvre porcelain was used at certain occasions.
The King and Queen was not allowed to serve themselves at the dinner table. They were not to pour themselves a glass of water or reach for a dish. This was the job - and privilege! - of courtiers of a certain rank. Normally the public supper took place at ten o'clock in the evening but towards the end of the ancien régime the Grand-Couverts were only held on Sundays and feast days.
|Gold and silver plates such as these were used to serve dinner to the royal couple|