Friday, 14 June 2013

Lovers and Friends

Louis Philippe (first Duc de Chartres, then Duc d'Orlèans) was the husband of Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon but after the first attachment to his wife had faded, he began an affair with one of his wife's ladies-in-waiting: Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Albin. Stéphanie Félicité was a noblewoman herself and was known at court as the Comtesse de Genlis.

Madame de Genlis 1780.jpg
Stéphanie Félicité

The romance began in 1772 but lasted for a remarkably short period of time - in 1773 the relationship had already died out according to court rumours. During their affair Stéphanie became known as a woman of bad morals since a liaison with a married man (a man married to a friend even!) was considered bad behaviour and certainly not becoming of a Comtesse. On the other hand Louis Philippe's involvement in the affair did not come as quite a shock to the court; Louis Philippe was known as leading a "loose" lifestyle. However, the end of their romance was not the end of their relationship as friends. It caused a lot of talk in the corners when Stéphanie Félicité was promoted to governess of Louis Philippe and Louise Marie Adélaïde's children in 1781.

Louis Philippe
It was through her love affair with Louis Philippe and her marriage that Stéphanie developed her own career and even published a few books. The strange thing about this affair is that not only did the couple remain friends afterwards but Stéphanie's friendship with Louise Marie Adélaïde was not ruined by it - on the contrary it remained good until
Stéphanie's teaching took on a path that did not suit Louise Marie Adélaïde.

Rumours would later hint that a woman by the name of Stephanie Caroline Anne Syms was in fact the daughter of Louis Philippe and Stéphanie Félicité - the rumour was made even stronger by the fact that she was considered an adopted daughter of Stéphanie Félicité. To this day no one really knows if she was the result of the short-lived affair.

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