I happily admit that I am a bit of a costume period drama addict, and the most recent 1 that I am catching up on is Versailles, the story of the Sun King Louis XIV of France, the BBCs latest. It has been on about 5 weeks now, but I always seem to miss it when it is on the Beeb, and I am watching it on catch-up. I am on episode 2. Episode 1 ends with the Queen giving birth to her second child, a girl, who also happens to be, lets just say, not the same skin tone as the King. And here, for me, the problem starts, although there was obviously problems in the royal marriage of at least 9 months gestation.
In the second episode, we see a funeral, a pretence, a show, to everyone around the court and the country and to it’s neighbours, the Dutch, that there has been another story, the story of a still-birth. Most of the court is unaware of what has happened, they are grieving the death of the Royal Princess, unknowing that the child is alive and well, and being nursed by a blind wet-nurse.
How many times in our lives does something happen that we did not want to happen, and then we invent stories to cover up the truth?
When I attended my Mother’s funeral, the lies that she had told to her friends began to become much clearer to me. The reason that she had kept me at arms length at events that I would have liked to have been invited to, became much clearer. She had lied about my life, she had lied about who my father was, she had told stories to those around her, and she had to keep the pretence up.
There is a line in the 2nd episode, it goes “Don’t you understand how rumours start? Silence only fuels the fire” If people are not told the truth, then they make up their own.
I find myself watching Versailles and thinking about the political turmoil in the current situation in the UK and the EU. History really doesn’t change that much. Costume does, but not the human story behind it, the power, the way women have used their charm and beauty to get what they want, the power hungry men (and women) and the death and destruction that powerful people leave in their wake.