X-rays unveil Marie Antoinette had affair with Swedish count

Count Axel von Fersen, left, and France Queen Marie Antoinette are seen in this photo collage. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

TAIPEI (The China Post) – More than two centuries after Marie Antoinette’s death, experts confirmed earlier this week that the icon of France’s history was cheating on her husband.

The rumor of her affair with Count Axel von Fersen was eventually confirmed by scanning some scribbled-over letters with state-of-the-art x-ray technology.

The correspondence by the queen and the count who organized her aborted Flight to Varennes (20–21 June 1791) during which she unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Paris with King Louis XVI of France and their immediate family in order to initiate a counter-revolution.

Since 1877 – when a grand-nephew of the Count revealed the existence of these letters – scribbled-over passages had cast doubt on the nature of the relationship between the queen and Axel von Fersen.

By deciphering eight of the fifteen letters, the Rex II program, directed by the French Conservation Research Centre (CRC) and the “Heritage and Cultural Dynamics” laboratory (DYPAC), successfully unraveled the mystery.

The new scanner identified some elements contained in the inks of the letters without the need for sampling. As the initial ink and the ink used on top to cross out the text are different, the scanner eventually revealed the underlying text.

“I live only to love you,” Marie-Antoinette told the Count of Fersen.

The Count of Fersen declared his love to the queen without hesitation: “I love you madly. (…) To see you, to love you, to comfort you is all I desire.”

The question is who wished to conceal certain names in these love letters. According to scientists, the ink used by Fersen and the ink of scribbled-over sections has many components in common.

It is therefore likely that the Swedish count himself concealed his name, probably to ensure that the letters would not harm the queen. Madly in love, yes, but careful.