Charismatic and beautiful, Gabrielle became the undisputed leader of the Queen's exclusive circle and ensured that few entered without her approval. Gabrielle was considered by many of her friends to be elegant, sophisticated, charming, and entertaining. Gabrielle and Marie soon aroused the envy and jealousy. Jealous courtiers started spreading all kinds of nasty and vicious rumours about Marie Antoinette and her friends. The most innocent amusement was turned into something cruel and lascivious. Gabrielle was accused of being Marie Antoinette's lover and wasting the people's money on expensive and extravagant whims. None of this is true. Some historians believe that Gabrielle was cunning, others that she was used and a pawn of her family. I tend to side with the second theory, as it has now been calculated that Madame De Pompadeur, Louis XV's mistress spent in just one year what Gabrielle spent in her 14 years at Versailles. Another scandal around her was caused when she was appointed Governess of the Children of France. She was also given a 13-room apartment at Versailles, while previous governesses had to make do with only 4 or 5 rooms. She took her job very seriously, and people said Marie’s children were very well educated.
In 1780, Gabrielle's husband was given the title duc de Polignac, thus making Gabrielle a duchess, a further source of irritation to the courtiers.
Eventually Marie Antoinette began to tire of the Duchess de Polignac and the ambitions of her family. In 1785, Gabrielle went England, where she visited friends, which included Georgiana Cavendish. During her time in England, she earned the nickname "Little Po," due to her delicate constitution. She eventually returned to France, and the months leading up to the July 1789 outbreak of the French Revolution saw the Queen and the duchess de Polignac become close again. Then when the Bastille was stormed, Marie Antoinette, fearing Gabrielle may be murdered, begged her to leave. The duchess refused. She wanted to be there for Marie Antoinette and Louis in their hour of need. But the Queen wouldn't have it. "Remember that you are a mother," she told Gabrielle.