On air
  • RFI English Live
  • RFI French Live

Emmanuel Macron President France politics Marriage

Issued on • Modified

Brigitte and Emmanuel: 'Not an ideal couple', but they make it work

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and French President's wife Brigitte Macron attend a French-US ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 2019 AFP / Mandel Ngan

In an unusually intimate interview with French media, France’s first lady admitted that the election of her husband Emmanuel Macron as president "terrified her".

Speaking to France’s RTL radio on Thursday, Brigitte Macron elaborated on the challenges of her relationship with her husband 24 years her junior, noting “we are not an ideal couple”.

Perhaps, but they have made it work despite his rigorous and often controversial time as president so far.

French President's wife Brigitte Macron looks on as she speaks with a schoolgirl during a visit to raise awareness about bullying in a high school of Clamart, near Paris, on November 15, 2018. Bertrand GUAY / AFP

She says that the two keep each other in line and never go to bed angry, and insist on sharing breakfast and dinner together, even if that mean he goes back to reading his files at midnight.

She referred to his presidency - his first elected office - as a “learning experience” and insists that her husband is not arrogant as some critics conclude, but says he sometimes suffers from “doubts”.

Yellow vest protests

Brigitte acknowledged that her 41 year old husband has made mistakes thus far as president, namely when he insulted unemployed people and failed to discipline a security aide who had beaten a protester; a moment that erupted into a political scandal.

She expressed sympathy for the Yellow Vest protesters who are struggling to make ends meet and are angry at Macron’s pro-business policies, but confessed to being “scared for France” when those protests turned violent.

Entering politics

During recent high-profile trips to Marseille and Lyon where she met prominent local politicians, the first lady shrugged off any suggestion that she went on her husband’s bidding, adding she has no desire to play politics herself.

“No, no, no, no. I have neither the taste nor the competence for politics” adding having her husband as president “doesn’t suit me, but I make it work”.

Rocky beginning

Brigitte and Emmanuel met while she was a married teacher with children at his high school.

When the two fell in love, she admits that “it took me a while to realise what was happening and then to make the leap and become his wife”.

Being in a couple is complicated . . .and when there is a big age difference like ours, even more so.
Brigitte Macron

The first lady acknowledged that their relationship initially hurt her children. “But at one point, I understood that Emmanuel was my life and they understood”.

"Being in a couple is complicated," she said, "and when there is a big age difference like ours, even more so."

Despite the age difference, Brigitte noted she doesn’t like being called a cougar; a colloquial term often used to older women who ‘prey’ on younger men.

“I was always attracted to men my age. Emmanuel was an exception.”