Sarkozy kept wedding plans a near state secret
Sarkozy and the Italian Bruni were married Saturday in a first floor reception room of the Elysee Palace, with about 20 relatives and close friends present
PARIS, February 4, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy went to
elaborate lengths to keep his wedding to former supermodel Carla Bruni a near
state secret until it was over, a Paris district mayor has revealed.
Sarkozy, 53, and the Italian Bruni, 40, were married Saturday in a first
floor reception room of the Elysee Palace, with about 20 relatives and close
friends present, according to Francois Lebel, the local mayor who officiated.
The president's third marriage again put him on front pages around the
world because of his private life -- a phenomenon which polls say is costing
him support at home from voters who would rather he worked on France's
But it does allow Bruni to accompany Sarkozy on a state visit to Britain in
March as France's first lady. The couple will have tea with Queen Elizabeth II
at Buckingham Palace.
The presidency only confirmed the event several hours after it happened and
Sarkozy had warned reporters last month that if there was a wedding the media
would only find out about it afterwards.
"The suspense is over. And so -- for now -- is the soap opera" surrounding
their romance, wrote Le Parisien, which splashed a report on the wedding
across its front pages.
"Relief abroad, relief at home, where even the president's friends were
alarmed to see his private life eclipse his political work," commented the
Journal du Dimanche.
Lebel, whose eighth arrondissement includes the Elysee Palace, explained
the lengths taken to preserve the couple's "discretion" as their whirlwind
romance ended in an exchange of vows.
"The banns were not published because the president of the republic
obtained, as is often the case, special dispensation from the prosecutor of
the republic," the mayor told reporters late Saturday.
Sarkozy also obtained special permission from the local prosecutor to hold
the civil ceremony at the Elysee Palace instead of the town hall, which would
normally be used.
Photographers had been staking out town halls across the capital as
speculation heightened that a wedding was close.
But the mayor insisted that "everything was done in a Republican and
"The bride wore white. She was ravishing, as usual. The bridegroom didn't
look bad, either," Lebel declared.
The couple were "emotional and amorous," he added. "There was an exchange
of vows and the traditional kiss. Nothing exceptional."
Lebel said a marriage contract was signed, indicating that if there is a
divorce each will keep the assets they had before the wedding day instead of
splitting them 50-50.
The wedding came less than four months after Sarkozy ended his stormy 11
year marriage to Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz in October. While he is the first
divorcee to be elected French president, he is the second to get married in
office after Gaston Doumerque in 1931.
Sarkozy has a son, Louis, from his marriage to Cecilia and two adult sons,
Pierre and Jean from his first marriage to Marie-Dominique Culioli.
Bruni has a six-year-old son, Aurelien, from her relationship with
philosopher Raphael Enthoven. She has previously been linked with rock stars
Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger and American property tycoon Donald Trump.
The couple met at a dinner party only weeks after Sarkozy's divorce.
Jacques Seguela, the advertising tycoon who organised the dinner for Sarkozy,
said it was "love at first sight".
The relationship was made public in December when they were photographed
together at Disneyland theme park outside Paris.
They went on vacation together in Egypt and Jordan and as rumours of
impending marriage increased, the French leader admitted at a press conference
on January 8 that "with Carla it's serious."
Bruni is an heiress who made one fortune as a supermodel in the 1990s and
then became a pop singer.
Enthoven's ex-wife Justine Levy, daughter of philosopher Bernard-Henri
Levy, published a 2004 novel with a character based on Bruni, describing her
as "beautiful and bionic, with the eyes of a killer".