Under the influence of her mother, she tried unskilfully to play a political role but few people in the court appreciated her. Madame Adélaïde gave her the pejorative nickname “the Austrian woman” which stuck to her until her death. The queen became the prime target of scurrilous pamphlets, libels and caricatures, especially after 1785 when the “Necklace Affair”, a swindle in which she seems to have been only the victim, served as a pretext for calumnies. In her small theatre at Trianon, she dared to put on The Marriage of Figaro, the play written in 1778 by Beaumarchais and sharply critical of the society of the Ancien Régime, which the King had banned. The break with the court was final.
Her ambiguous attitude when the French Revolution broke out – she gave the impression of a queen hesitating between flight and reconciliation – accelerated her tragic end. Locked up in the Temple prison after 10 August 1792, Marie-Antoinette was transferred to the Conciergerie some time after the execution of the king in 1793. She showed very great courage in enduring her trial before the revolutionary Tribunal and at her execution on 16 October 1793, on the present place de la Concorde. In 1815, her remains were placed in the basilica of Saint-Denis, the royal crypt.