One year on, France's first couple settles in

One year on, France's first couple settles in

9th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

As Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy celebrate their first wedding anniversary, is she influencing him with her left-wing opinions?

PARIS - She still has a singing career, has become active in the AIDS campaign and during her first year of marriage to the French president, has gingerly carved out a role as a discreet but modern first lady.

A year ago on February 2, the supermodel-turned-singer and the president exchanged vows surrounded by some 20 close friends and relatives at the Elysee presidential palace.

The wedding ceremony held in strict privacy stood in contrast to the glitzy first months of their romance that began at a Paris dinner party hosted by advertising magnate Jacques Seguela in November 2007.

"We have a quiet life, we have settled in," said Sarkozy in a recent interview to Le Point magazine. "Our families get along... No really, I have nothing to complain about, she is great."

A leftist, Bruni is known to wield some influence over her right-wing husband.

"I accord a lot of importance to what she tells me. Her views broaden my perspective, my thoughts," Sarkozy was quoted as telling Le Point.

France found out about their president's new romance when the couple were photographed together at the EuroDisney theme park outside Paris.

They were later seen on vacation together in Egypt and Jordan, their every move followed by a horde of paparazzi.

photo AFP

Since then, Bruni has lowered her profile, making fewer public appearances and dramatically toning down her image from her modelling days when she brazenly declared that "monogamy bores me."

At 41, the first lady has recorded a third album Comme Si De Rien N'etait (As If Nothing Happened) that has received a lukewarm reception in France, with revenues from sales going to charity.

In December, she became a world ambassador for the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, saying she hoped to draw attention to the plight of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Bruni made a splash when she accompanied Sarkozy during his state visit to Britain in March, curtsying before Queen Elizabeth II and dominating frontpage news coverage in London for days.

With the British press proclaiming that "Carla" stole the show, the French meanwhile agreed that she had deftly handled the protocol required of a first lady.

At her husband's request, she met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in southern France in August after the president decided against a meeting that would have angered Beijing.

The Italian-born first lady also pulled strings to prevent the extradition to Italy of convicted Red Brigades member Marina Petrella, whose health was failing.

Bruni and her sister, actress Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, announced the decision personally to Petrella at her hospital bedside.

After Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi described US President Barack Obama as "young, handsome and tanned", Bruni-Sarkozy hit back: "I'm so happy I decided to become French!" She has given up her Italian passport.

Sarkozy's marriage to Bruni was his third and came after he and his wife of 11 years, Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz, divorced in October 2007. Cecilia has since re-married, with events organiser Richard Attias.



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