President Macron defends and clarifies Brigitte’s role

President Emmanuel Macron has explained the role that his wife Brigitte plays in his life, and also clarified her position as the country’s de facto “first lady” - even though she does not officially hold that title.

Published Last updated

Macron, who was speaking to Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) in an interview during the economic forum Davos, was romantic, supportive and clear when he spoke about Brigitte, his partner of 20 years.

“She is me, and I am her,” he said. “She is not just my wife, she is a free woman; a responsible woman, who is also a real face of modernity, and of what women can bring to our society.”

The President also took the opportunity to explain Brigitte’s “role” within the government - which has previously been hotly contested.

A 2017 petition successfully gathered over 275,000 signatures, and ensured that Brigitte would neither be given the title of “first lady” nor receive any official Elysée budget.

“She is not in the role of ‘advisor’,” explained Macron, in the interview. “That is not what she wants to do, anyway. She embodies both femininity, and takes on a few areas within her gaze, to which she brings her light touch and sensitivity.”

He added: “I think people expect that of her, too.”

And yet, the President said that he always speaks openly and regularly with Brigitte, because of her “sensitivity”, and their shared outlook on the world. “I don’t believe we do not have any problems there,” he said.

Almost 25 years the President’s senior and once a teacher who ran his high school drama club, Brigitte Macron has appeared a controversial figure at times, with some contesting her role within the Elysée as her husband came to power.

Some alleged that she had too much control over the President, and access to too many public funds.

The President has always defended his wife, dubbing her presence “essential” to his success, and explaining that their love - with its significant age gap - was often “misunderstood”.

And yet, Brigitte has taken on some roles in support of the President with apparently-great ease - most notably that of the “godmother” of the baby panda, Yuan Meng, who was born in August 2017 at the ZooParc de Beauval.

Brigitte was the first of the couple to see the panda, and effectively acted as representative for the Elysée during ceremonies - such as the naming ceremony - at which Chinese officials were also present, in an event that was hailed as a great success for Franco-Chinese diplomacy.

Stay informed:
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