Brigitte Macron to take on informal role as First Lady

PARIS • Mrs Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, has said she will adopt the role of First Lady, but only in an informal capacity following opposition to plans to give her an official status.

Speaking to Elle magazine in her first interview since her husband's election in May, the 64-year-old former school teacher also joked about the young leader's age - he is 25 years younger - and spoke glowingly of their marriage.

Mr Macron's plans to create an official status and job for his wife as First Lady have been shelved in the face of a hostile online petition, but Mrs Macron said she planned to adopt the role informally anyway.

"Like all of those before me, I will take on my public role, but the French people will know the resources at my disposal," she told the weekly magazine, according to excerpts of an interview to be published in full today.

Instead of creating an official First Lady position - which would have needed a change in the law or Constitution - the presidency has instead decided to issue a "transparency charter" that will set out the funds and staff devoted to Mrs Macron's activities.

"We'll post my meetings and my commitments on the presidency website, so that the French people know exactly what I'm doing," she said. "What's important is that it is clear."

She is expected to champion the work of charities dealing with education and the disabled.

She also spoke about her marriage with Mr Macron, a former pupil in her drama classes at a Catholic high school in the city of Amiens. "When I read about us, I always have the impression I'm reading someone else's story," she said. "Our story is so simple."

Despite the difficulties their relationship caused - the mother of three divorced her first husband in 2006 - she said she had no regrets. "If I hadn't made this choice, I would have missed out on my life," she said. "The only problem with Emmanuel is that he's younger than me," she joked.

Asked about adapting to life in the presidential Elysee Palace in central Paris, Mrs Macron replied: "With Emmanuel, I am so used to extraordinary things happening that I'm always asking myself what the next adventure will be. It's been like that for 20 years."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2017, with the headline 'Brigitte Macron to take on informal role as First Lady'. Print Edition | Subscribe