The French palace has confirmed that the pair will not be sealing their union in the rooms where Marie Antoinette once roamed, thus depriving them – and us – of a very special moment
If there is one thing the Palace of Versailles simply will not abide, it is conspicuous excess and flamboyance bordering on the grotesque. What a relief, then, to find the chateau's official Twitter account feeling the need to clear up a damaging misapprehension this week.
Ever since the engagement was announced between Miss Kimberley Kardashian and Mr Kanye West, there has been speculation as to the sort of venue that could possibly do justice to the couple's wedding. After all, Kim's last splicing took place at one of the classic mansions of Ancien Regime California (parts of the property are said to date all the way back to 1926) – to say nothing of the fact that the event was televised over two episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and coincided with a new fragrance launch for the reality Sun Queen. This time around Kanye's proposal involved the hiring of the San Francisco Giants stadium, and saw the hip hop artist pop the question on the electronic scoreboard in signature caps-lock style: "PLEEEASE MARRY MEEE!!!" Asked soon after for his early thoughts on what he wanted for the wedding itself, he replied: "Two words: fighter jets." So when speculating on the shape the big day might take, it was understandable that no media outlet had hazarded the couple might settle for the mushroom vol-au-vents and pay bar of low-key nuptial cliche.
Instead, the hot favourite venue – according to various reports apparently sourced to those in the know – was the Palace of Versailles, which is available for select weddings, and in the past few years has played host to ceremonies for Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, and Wafic Said's daughter and son-in-law. (At the latter event, Robbie Williams was the entertainment, in what I hope he claims was an ironic comment on those years of wedding singer jibes, as opposed to something he agreed to for a staggering fee.)
Anyway, Kim and Kanye have been in Paris for the fashion shows, and last weekend took time out of their busy schedule to journey to Versailles, in much the most sensational delegation to hit the palace since the Siamese Embassy stopped by for a few months in 1686.
As for what might have attracted the couple to the idea of Versailles as the place to seal their union, perhaps it was the venue's reputation for conferring longevity upon the bargains struck beneath its gilded chandeliers. The last time Kim signed a marriage certificate, alas, the everlasting harmony it was intended to usher in lasted just the 72 days. So by these standards, even the Treaty of Versailles looks like an enduring triumph.
But what a sniffy surprise, then, to find the palace breaking with its Twitter routine of posting pictures of its grounds or of restorers at work on its treasures, to announce in both French and English:
So were they ever? According to some reports purporting to quote sources close to the pair, they had indeed set their hearts on Versailles, but were rebuffed by officials who felt them not to be an ideal fit. If that is indeed the case, it's a puzzle. Quite what sort of understated venue these officials imagine themselves the custodians of is unclear – after all, if we had to come up with an artistic classification for the style in which Kimye lead their lives, we could do far worse than something along the lines of Reality Louis Quatorze.
Then again, if the rebuffing did indeed come from the Versailles side as opposed to the Kimye one, perhaps it was borne from a fear of what sort of reaction the booking would engender. Back in 2010, you may know, a mere art exhibition at the palace by Takashi Murakami – the chap who did the cover artwork for Kanye's Graduation album, by coincidence – attracted an irate 11,000 signatures to a petition which deemed it very far infra dig of the palace. But that was merely the start of the resistance: French royal activists (honestly guys, give it up) declared the show illegal, while those who fight contemporary art in all its debasing forms were instructed to turn up to the Versailles gates bearing items such as urinals and paintings of cat penises to join the protest taking place. Given the palace had gone through something similar with a Jeff Koons exhibition two years previously, perhaps they felt they couldn't face the fury a Kimye wedding might provoke amongst soi disant traditionalists.
And yet, what could be more traditional, at Versailles, than the rapturous receiving of extravagant foreign dignitaries? As previously mentioned, one of the most talked-about episodes of Louis XIV's court was the Siamese embassy, which saw the king of Siam's envoys feted by Louis with no expense spared, and set the courtly gossips of Europe agog. Could not a modern-day delegation from the E! channel, with a retinue of wedding planners, celebrity guests and feverish gossip publications have upheld this tradition most purely?
Thanks to the forces of misplaced conservatism, perhaps, it seems we will now never know. Lost in Showbiz mourns everything from the missed opportunity for a groom's speech claiming divine right to the fact the Marie Antoinette's hameau will now not be turned into a black-tie petting zoo to entertain little North West and her section of the guest list while her parents plight their troth.
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image: © Alexis