Citizens and Serfs:
I am deeply ashamed. I must confirm that the lewd portraiture now circulating through our news pamphlets and bistros is mine. I had these paintings commissioned, in which I do appear in various states of undress, as well as in a variety of poses that can only be described as lusty. The one in the water closet, where my bosom is elegantly framed by the beautiful gold-trimmed mirror, is particularly sexy. These are inappropriate, especially for children, and for that I am sorry.
However, I want you all to know that I am the real victim here. Those pictures were meant for private consumption. I had 7,000 portraits commissioned of myself and I decided to do a few extra for some special people in my life. These were never meant to leave their possession. I am the victim of a massive hacking.
Someone, or perhaps several people, illegally accessed the shed where I keep my private files and images. The police are still investigating, but it appears the thugs hacked into the shed with an ax, for the sole purpose of taking important information and rearranging other items in such a manner as to make their use inconvenient to me. They then used a devious printing press technology to copy the images and send them to other ne’er-do-wells. They may have even ended up in the hands of pirates.
I would like to thank all of you for your support in this difficult time for me and my family. And to those responsible, the army has been ordered to execute you on sight.
Though not the first sex scandal in history–that honor belongs to Richard the Lionhearted, a foot fetish, and a blabbermouth troubadour–this early example of public humiliation will resonate with modern readers, who also want to see breasts.
Of course, by the time Catherine’s racy portraits were distributed to the general public by courier, and neighbors had traveled a day’s journey to discuss the portraits over a brew at the local pub, and then returned home, written about it in their diaries, and read those diaries aloud to their families, the scandal had been replaced by a new one involving a father-son dispute over fishing rights, and all thoughts of Catherine’s sleek ivory foot arches evaporated.
Catherine’s ladies in waiting still couldn’t help but say “I told you so.” They had told Catherine that the secret password she used with the guard she installed in front of the shed hiding the portraits was too simple to guess. (It was simply “SecretPassword.”) After six months in a rehabilitation facility for monarchs obsessed with revealing themselves in portraits, where Catherine struck up an ill-advised and thankfully brief romance with the depraved King Louis XV of France, Catherine returned to Russia, claiming to have found God.