Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Episode 10 - None of Them is Yours!

King Pomare V of Tahiti
The reconciliation between the new King and Queen lasted long enough for a daughter, Princess Terii o Tahiti Pomare (“Boots”), to be born in 1879, but the marriage soon disintegrated again when the king resumed his old habits. Marau wrote later in her Memoirs, “When I complained about it, he replied ‘What is it to you? Are you not the Queen?’”
Marau was certainly enjoying her elevated status, expecting deference even from her own family. However, her reign as consort was about to come to an abrupt end. After only three years as sovereign, King Pomare V was penniless and tired of his official responsibilities. In return for a pension for all of the members of the royal family, including Marau, he signed an agreement with the French authorities in June 1880 making Tahiti a fully fledged colony of France. Although the monarchy was officially abolished, Pomare and Marau continued to be accorded the titles King and Queen of Tahiti during their respective lifetimes. This was some personal consolation to Marau, but she grieved for the loss of her country’s last vestige of independence.  
This did not mean she was anti-French. In 1884, she traveled to Paris where she created a media sensation. The press followed her every move, and Parisian society women copied her Tahitian style of dress. On the long voyage home, she fell in love with a French naval officer, with whom she conceived a second daughter and later a son. Not surprisingly, the King took Marau’s pregnancies as a slap in the face and demanded a divorce. His petition was heard and granted at a public hearing in Papeete in January 1888. When Pomare accused Marau of adultery, claiming that only the oldest girl was his, she leapt to her feet, yelling, “None of them is yours!” As the American historian Henry Adams later remarked after hearing this anecdote, “For an exchange of insults, I have heard of nothing finer!”

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