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Brigitte: from teacher to France's new first lady

Monday, May 8, 2017 - 06:41

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She has been in her husband's life since he was 15 - first as a teacher, then lover and now as his first lady.

[PARIS] She has been in her husband's life since he was 15 - first as a teacher, then lover and now as his first lady.

And she will be at Emmanuel Macron's side when the 39-year-old pro-EU centrist takes office as modern France's youngest ever president, after winning Sunday's decisive run-off vote.

Elegant and svelte, 64-year-old Brigitte is her husband's closest collaborator, whom he has pledged to give an official role at the presidential palace.

"Every night we debrief together and we repeat what we have heard about each other," she told Paris Match magazine last year.

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"I have to pay attention to everything, do the maximum to protect him." Brigitte has been on the cover of nearly a dozen magazines and at her husband's side for packed-to-capacity rallies, while the world has been fascinated by the couple's unorthodox romance.

But before all that she was another man's wife and mother of three who taught French, Latin and drama. She was on course for a comfortable, if somewhat conventional life.

Brigitte Trogneux was born on April 13, 1953, in Amiens in northern France, which is also Emmanuel Macron's hometown, into a prosperous family that runs a well-known pastry and chocolate business.

Then in the early 1990s she was astounded by a young man acting in a production of Milan Kundera's "Jacques and his Master". It was Emmanuel.

She quickly agreed when he asked her to help him work on a script and thus they began to build a bond.

'I will marry you'

The teacher, then 39, was "totally captivated" by 15-year-old Emmanuel's intelligence. The feeling was mutual and two years later he made a bold prediction.

"At the age of 17, Emmanuel said to me: 'Whatever you do, I will marry you'," she told Paris Match last April.

Emmanuel Macron went off to finish high school at an elite establishment in Paris, but he kept pursuing her and little by little she was won over.

Brigitte left her husband Andre Louis Auziere, a banker, in 2006 and married Macron a year later. She moved to Paris where he continued his studies and she worked as a teacher.

"When I make up my mind about something, I do it," she said in a documentary about Emmanuel.

She is described as warm and down-to-earth by those who know her, who also stress her charm and positive nature.

One of them, Gregoire Campion, met her on a beach in the northern resort town of Le Touquet over 40 years ago. Their beach huts were next to each other and he remembers the young Brigitte "wasn't a party animal" but was "very educated".

Le Touquet has remained a part of her life and the now grandmother of seven has spent many weekends there with her family. She was at Emmanuel's side when he cast his ballot there on Sunday.

It is a place to gather with her son and two daughters from her first marriage - who have grown up to be an engineer, a cardiologist and a lawyer.

Yet the life with her politician husband and the massive commitment of the campaign remains a major focus.

"I am lucky to share this with Emmanuel, even if when it comes to politics I haven't had much choice," she has said, also voicing the desire to help disadvantaged young people as first lady.

AFP

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