There are many descriptions which allow us to complete the portrait of this exuberant princess.
One of her usual jokes is to wet people, in embarrassing places, through carefully concealed water jets, as they walk in the palace gardens. Laughing at their embarrassment gives her great joy.
She does even better. She plays a bad joke on her camarera mayor, a lady of respectable age. “She finds out how the lady dresses and, one day, sneaking up on her and cutting one of the laces on her clothes, she makes her skirts fall down and the proud Duchess d’Altamira finds herself in her undershirt in the middle of the court circle.”
She loves going without either stockings or skirts, saying that the climate is too hot and that she is not used to it. She often goes completely naked in front of her women. This causes an incident which could have had serious consequences for the man who was the unwilling participant.
One day, the Queen who, as usual, is not wearing any underclothing, and is dressed only in an undershirt and a light gown, climbs up a ladder. Suddenly, fearing to fall, she calls for help.
The butler, hearing her cries, arrives quickly and holds out his hand to help her descend. This is of the highest imprudence. There is no greater crime than to touch the Queen. In Spain, such an outrage is punished by death.
It is decided that it should be hushed up, but the guilty man is asked to abandon his post and immediately return to France. Field-Marshal de Tesse gives an account of this joyful incident, which led to the disgrace of an over-zealous servant, to the Duke de Bourbon. The Field-Marshal is not afraid to say what he thinks.
“I would wash out his head, but it would be for the stupidity of coming to this country, because, as for the imprudence which he had with the Queen, if anyone needs to be reprimanded, it is she who is to blame for something for which the poor devil is completely innocent. She climbed up to the top of the ladder and displayed her backside, not to mention anything else. She thought that she was going to fall and called out for help. Magny climbed up and helped her descend, in front of all of her women. However, unless he was blind, Magny must certainly have seen something which he was not looking to see, and which she has the habit of showing very freely. The Queen, to show herself in a better light, which did not succeed, accused him of being insolent. To tell the truth, you are only insolent with these ladies when you are forced to be.”
The King admits to Field-Marshal de Tesse that “he would rather be a galley slave than live with a creature who observes no proprieties… who thinks only of eating and running around naked, which scandalises her domestics”.
The couple spends a few days at Saint-Ildefonse. The aspect of this pious retreat does not encourage Mlle de Montpensier to tone down her behaviour. The day after her arrival, her father-in-law surprises her in a daring state of undress.
Philip V sees her from his window at the moment when a gust of wind exposes her, in the most outrageous manner, to the gaze of a crowd of workmen. To the severe remonstrances addressed to her, the whimsical princess replies with a promise of repentance which is only pretended docility, as her natural character soon reappears.
Shortly afterwards, it is discovered that she is making her ladies-in-waiting recite the most filthy litanies. Then she amuses herself, in their company, with a game which, to judge by the description which is given to us, must have been anything but decent.
She had seen some schoolboys play a game where each person, having his arms and legs held together by a small stick, tries to overthrow his fellow players. The fun consists in the useless efforts made by the person who has fallen, to get up again. She used this spectacle as her inspiration for a game described by Field-Marshal de Tesse.
“The Queen was found with two or three ladies-in-waiting whom she had made to strip naked, as well as herself, who were playing this lovely game. No day goes by without something charming of this nature happening.”
At the beginning of her reign, she could at least invoke the excuse of not perfectly knowing the etiquette of the Spanish court. Seeing the high-ranking people surrounding her all wearing hats during an outing, she asks, with a great air of naivety, if the reason was that it was raining. This remark was seen to be of the greatest impropriety.
If only she had kept herself to this puerile maliciousness, but the unusual princess intended to multiply her excentricities. As far as the exercise of absolute power allowed her.
This repeated thoughtlessness finishes by taxing the patience of the royal family, and Philip V gives the order to lock up the harebrained young lady in the Madrid Palace.
However, on the sixth day of this forced reclusion, the princess having been taken for an airing, the young King sees her and brings her back in his carriage to Buen Retiro, where he tries, by gifts and a thousand considerations, to make her forget the mortification which her father-in-law had just inflicted on her.
Third part tomorrow.