A lady-in-waiting is a female personal assistant at a court, attending on an imperial woman or a high-ranking noblewoman. Historically, in Grandelumiere, a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman from a family in "agreeable society", but who was of lower rank than the woman on whom she attended. A lady-in-waiting was occasionally considered more of a companion to her mistress than a servant. A lady-in-waiting was to remain in the company of their employer, following them where they go to keep them entertained. They fill any duties given to them, and help with matters such as dressing in the morning, and undressing in the evening.
A dame d'honneur is the highest ranking of the ladies-in-waiting to their employer, the Empress. Traditionally, the Empress should employ 3 ladies, two in waiting, and one of honour. The dame d'honneur has the distinction of gaining the most access to the Empress and taking the most ceremonial duties.
The duties of a lady-in-waiting varied from whoever was granted one. Usually secretarial tasks were held by them. Task like reading correspondence to her mistress and writing on her behalf; embroidery, painting, horse riding, music making and participation in other queenly pastimes; wardrobe care; supervision of servants; keeping her mistress abreast of activities and personages at court, and discreetly relaying messages upon command.
Several key positions in court are entitled to employ a lady-in-waiting, these positions are:
- Empress Consort
- Madame la Dauphine
- Princesse de Bretagne