If her husband becomes France’s next president, Brigitte Macron will be the most unusual first lady the country has ever seen.
While French first ladies have a checkered history -- making headlines for excessive spending, extra-marital affairs, treason and even murder -- they’ve never been as central a figure in the formative years of their husbands’ lives as Brigitte has been for front-runner Emmanuel Macron. Brigitte Macron, who is 24 years older than the candidate, has been his guide and coach since he was 15, and is playing an active role in his campaign, advising him on speeches and effectively helping set his agenda.
“Emmanuel Macron wouldn’t have been able to embark on this adventure without her,” said Marc Ferracci, a campaign adviser and a witness at the couple’s 2007 wedding. “Her presence is essential for him.”
With just over two weeks to go before the first round of the vote, multiple polls show that Macron is a strong favorite to make it to the second round and will likely face the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, whom he is seen defeating with a large margin in the decisive round.
“If I’m elected -- no, sorry, when we are elected -- she will be there, with a role, and a place,” the 39-year-old candidate said of Brigitte, 63, on March 8 during a speech in Paris. “I owe her a lot, she helped make me who I am.”
Many of the wives of French leaders have found a place in the history books: Queen Marie-Antoinette’s lavish spending contributed to the fall of the French monarchy in the late 18th century and Empress Josephine was divorced because she couldn’t give Napoleon an heir. In 1914, Prime Minister Joseph Caillaux’s wife Henriette killed the editor of the newspaper Le Figaro because he was a political threat to her husband.