Brigitte Trogneux raised plenty of eyebrows in the lead-up to France’s presidential election – and she wasn’t even one of the candidates.
As newly elected President Emmanuel Macron takes office, all eyes are also on his wife, Ms Trogneux. The incoming First Lady, 64, is more than 20 years older than her 39-year-old husband, and used to be his French and drama teacher before leaving their shared hometown of Amiens and following him to Paris.
The notoriously private couple have recently stepped into the spotlight as the former finance minister left the socialist party in order to form his own movement En Marche! which is translated as Onwards or On the Move.
During the campaign, the former investment banker laughed off unsubstantiated reports he was having a secret affair with a male French journalist, saying it must be his body double given his wife supports him 100 per cent.
“If you’re told I lead a double life … it’s because my hologram has escaped,” he said.
The pair married in 2007, reportedly falling in love after meeting at a high school where she worked as his French and drama teacher.
Ms Trogneux is from a wealthy family of chocolatiers and has three children and six grandchildren. She told Paris Match magazine she was pursued by her husband from a young age.
“At the age of 17, Emmanuel said to me, ‘Whatever you do, I will marry you!’” she said as the couple posed on holiday at a nudist beach in France.
Ms Macron has been credited with influencing her husband’s views on women in politics. A self-proclaimed “convert to feminism”, Mr Macron has vowed to defend equal pay and maternity leave. He has also vowed that half of the candidates running for his En Marche! party in the National Assembly elections in June will be women.
Emmanuel Macron’s wife will break with tradition and take on an official role as First Lady in France’s government.
Although Brigitte Macron will not be paid for her job in the incoming administration, the 64-year-old will have a formal position and head up an office with its own budget, in contrast with her predecessors.
“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,” Mr Macron told French broadcaster TF1.
“So the person who lives with you must have a role and be recognised in that role.”
Her family was supportive throughout his campaign as well. Trogneux’s three children and seven grandchildren (who call Macron “daddy”) were pictured wearing shirts with his party’s slogan before Election Day.