Brigitte Macron: I do not feel like a ‘First Lady’
Brigitte Macron, the wife of President Emmanuel Macron, has admitted that she often does “not feel at all like a ‘First Lady’”, in a candid interview.
Mrs Macron admitted the honest sentiment during an interview with radio network RTL, as part of the publicity surrounding the President’s official visit to the United States this week.
She had chance to “escape” the protocol of the rest of the visit as she visited an art school in Georgetown, Washington on the visit’s final day. It was there that she made the candid admission about the nuances and difficulties of her role.
She said: “In my head, I am the wife of Emmanuel Macron, not the wife of the President. I do not feel at all like a ‘First Lady’. You have this responsibility that falls on you, to represent all French people. Otherwise, I live a normal life. I meet people. I have not changed the way I look, or the way I live.”
She explained how protocol often means her movements and position is highly controlled, which can be a challenge.
“There is a sticker on the floor [usually], and I stand where they tell me to. We are there, without really ‘being there’. It is very curious. And we must not make a nuisance of ourselves [as First Lady], because we are not the ones who were elected. The position is not always so straightforward.”
Mrs Macron also opened up about the constant pressure of being in the public eye.
She said: “There is never any ‘time off’. Wherever you are, there is always someone who can and will take a photo. There is never a moment when you can be totally at ease.”
Mrs Macron is relatively popular in France, but has received a certain level of criticism from the public, especially due to her being 24 years older than her husband, and his former teacher.
Controversy over her role at the Elysée palace led to confirmation that she would not receive an official budget to manage, or a specific government role beyond that of de facto “first lady” (despite this not being an official position in France).
Yet, she has still taken on a number of “First Lady” duties, most notably becoming the godmother of Yuan Meng, the first baby panda born and raised in a French zoo, at the ZooParc de Beauval.
She attended the panda’s baptism ahead of President Macron’s own visit to the zoo, and represented France in what many hailed as a diplomatic success with China.
Mrs Macron also welcomed Hollywood movie star, UN Ambassador and campaigner Angelina Jolie at the Elysée in January this year, where the duo reportedly talked about women’s education and violence against women.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France