MARIA CAROLINA, Queen of Naples and the Two Sicilies, was born in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna (d: 1814); Emma Hamilton, wife of Sir William Hamilton, ambassador to Naples, is well known as the mistress of Horatio Nelson, who risked career and reputation to be with her. Less known is her liaison with the Neopolitan Queen Maria Carolina, over whom she exercised considerable influence.

This affair, aided and abetted by Maria Caroline’s sister, Marie Antoinette (yes, THE Marie Antoinette) was well known to Sir William Hamilton, who found his wife’s Lesbianism an invaluable aid to his diplomatic mission in Naples. Ironically, no matter how “modern” and independent a spirit Lady Hamilton appears to us today, her every nonconforming move was made possible only by its profitability in flesh or influence to powerful men.

And no….we don’t know what that is on her head.