In her first major interview since her husband became the President of France, Brigitte Macron has spoken out about being married to a man who is 24 years her junior.
Brigitte, 64, first met Emmanuel Macron, 39, about 20 years ago when she taught drama at the high school he attended. It's unclear when their relationship began, but the couple were married in 2007, a year after she divorced banker André-Louis Auzière.
Speaking to Elle France, the First Lady recalls the early stages of her relationship with Emmanuel when they worked on a play together. "There was nothing between us at that time," she told the magazine, although she acknowledges that there was "gossip." She adds: "I was concerned only with my children, Sébastien, Laurence and Tiphaine."
Looking back on her relationship now, Macron says she would be missing out on life if she hadn't made the decision to be with the man she loves.
"There are times in your life where you need to make vital choices," she says. "And for me, that was it. So, what has been said over the 20 years, it's insignificant. Of course, we have breakfast together, me and my wrinkles, him with his youth, but it's like that. If I did not make that choice, I would have missed out on my life. I had a lot of happiness with my children and, at the same time, felt I had to live 'this love' as Prevert used to say, to by fully happy."
The age gap between Macron and her husband—which is about the same as Donald and Melania Trump—received widespread speculation during the French presidential campaign earlier this year. Macron says she found it difficult to cope with the misogyny that this provoked. "I ended by telling myself, okay, I do not take it well but I have to deal with it. After, it will pass," she reflects.
Macron is now facing resistance to the President's push to formalize the First Lady's role. Since the couple's arrival at the Élysée, a petition opposing such a move has received 314,000 signatures. Yet Macron insists that she will not take a salary and promises her official activities would be posted online "so that the French know exactly what I'm doing".
The full interview will be published by Elle on Friday.