They didn’t all speak French

Eleanor of Provence would have grown up speaking Provençal, a dialect of Occitan. Coming from a noble family, doubtless she learned French, but how accomplished she may have been in it by the time she arrived in England in 1236, aged 12, didn’t matter. Her groom Henry III spoke the Anglo-Norman of his court, but his mother Isabella of Angoulême and guardian Peter des Roches spoke Poitevin, which has some linguistic affinity with Occitan. In all probability Henry and Eleanor easily made themselves understood on their wedding day in Canterbury. As for English, Henry could certainly speak it. He had an English nursemaid and would have grown up with English-speaking servants. The same would be true of his and Eleanor’s children, in whose upbringing they played immediate roles. Common sense also suggests that Eleanor developed at least some passive command of English over the half century she spent in her adopted country.