Who is Brigitte Macron, new First Lady of France?
The new First Lady of France Brigitte Macron is not going to be hiding from the limelight – her husband Emmanuel says he wants her to play an important role at his side as he takes up the presidency.
In France the job of ‘First Lady’ is not official as it is in the USA – it is not mentioned in any legal text – however President Macron has said he wants that to change.
Speaking on TF1 news he recently said he wanted to give a real ‘public role’ to his wife and to resolve what he called a ‘French hypocrisy’.
“When you’re elected president of the Republic, you live with someone, you give your days and nights, you give your public life and your private life. So the person who lives with you must have a role and be recognised in that role,” he said.
Mr Macron already paid homage to his wife on the night of the first round of the elections when he invited her onto the stage and said: “She’s always there for me and I would not be myself without her”.
Mr and Mrs Macron are expected to further define her precise role in the coming weeks now that he has been elected, however he previously answered critics who questioned the expense of an official First Lady role by saying she would not be paid by the taxpayer.
Speaking at an event on March 8, International Women’s Day, he said that Brigitte would “not be in the background, not hidden”, adding: “She’ll be at my side, because she’s always been at my side”.
Those who know the couple say their marriage is a happy one – and their relationship has stood the test of time, despite its unorthodox beginning, when Emmanuel was a teenager and his future wife in her early 40s.
She also has plenty of goodwill from Mr Macron’s supporters, telling the crowd on March 8: “When we’re out in the street you’re there, telling me ‘go for it, we love you’. It’s hugely important to me. If I cope, it’s because you’re there.”
Mrs Macron, 64, started to emerge into the limelight with an interview with Paris Match in spring last year when her husband was still Economy Minister and had just launched his movement En Marche!
She spoke of her wish to support her husband full time, of their close relationship and details of their private life, such as the fact they have a dog called Figaro.
Nicknamed ‘Bibi’, Mrs Macron passed a CAPES in teaching literature and spent her career first in Paris, then Strasbourg, then in Amiens at the private Catholic lycée La Providence where she met her future husband, and then in Paris. In Amiens she was teaching French as well as running a theatre club, where she met Emmanuel, who started at the same time as her daughter Laurence.
They became close while adapting theatre scripts together. According to Caroline Derrien and Candice Nedelec in Les Macron (Fayard) she was never Emmanuel’s class teacher and she first heard about him from Laurence who called him a “crazy” boy who “knows everything about everything”.
Although Mrs Macron has said they "never had a physical relationship when he was a minor", she was clearly much taken by him: Le Parisien spoke to former pupils of the school who said “in class she was always quoting him. She was in awe of his writing talents and would read his poems out in front of everyone.”
Born Brigitte Trogneux, she comes from a well-off family known for generations as chocolate and confectionary makers in Amiens, especially reputed for their macarons...
The youngest of six, she married aged 21 and had three children with her banker husband André Louis Auzière, who respectively went on to be an engineer, cardiologist and avocate. She is grandmother to seven grandchildren.
The couple divorced in 2006 and in October 2007 Brigitte married Mr Macron, who at the time was working as an inspecteur des finances, a job he then left to work in Rothschild & Cie bank, before going into politics. The couple’s unusual age gap immediately caused a stir, despite the fact that it is the same as that between Donald and Melania Trump.
She left teaching in 2015 to focus on helping her husband with his career. She told Paris Match that on an evening they each “tell the other what we’ve heard people saying about the other”, adding that she is “attentive to everything” and “I do as much as I can to protect him”.
A spokesman for Mr Macron wrote in Huffington Post that the couple are “inseparable” and she brings him much-needed “comfort” and “stability”.
According to Le Monde, who interviewed people close to the family, at the Economy Ministry Mrs Macron would take already part in meetings with her husband and his team and on occasion received important guests in his place and organised dinners with celebrities to keep up their contacts list. Les Echos reports that she would proof-read his speeches and give him advice.
As First Lady she wants to take a particular interest in education and improving young people’s opportunities, she told Paris Match.
However Le Monde said: « She knows that few president’s wives have been happy and that couples rarely survive at the Elysée. She has fought for her happiness and worries about what could trouble it.”