Sarkozy's armour pierced by Cecilia
18 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - President Nicolas Sarkozy has always projected the image of a strong leader -- but he has also been ready to admit that his relationship with his wife, Cecilia, left him vulnerable.
18 October 2007
PARIS (AFP) - President Nicolas Sarkozy has always projected the image of a strong leader -- but he has also been ready to admit that his relationship with his wife, Cecilia, left him vulnerable.
The president professed his love for the former model in public, expressed his anger when pictures of his wife and her lover made the front page of a society magazine and shocked many when he admitted that their relationship was foundering.
The separation announced on Thursday after 11 years of marriage, ended months of speculation about the first couple's relationship. The rumours have steadily mounted since he took office in May.
Sarkozy has regularly serenaded his love for his wife, who played a key role in his political rise.
"Cecilia is my wife. She is part of me," Sarkozy wrote in his 2006 autobiography "Testimony".
"C. I write C. because even today, nearly 20 years after our first meeting, to pronounce her first name still moves me."
Sarkozy met Cecilia in 1984 when he officiated as mayor at her first wedding to television presenter Jacques Martin with whom she went on to have two daughters.
She divorced Martin in 1989 and seven years later married Sarkozy, who already had two sons. Together they had a son of their own, Louis, who was born in 1997.
Cecilia Sarkozy became a close advisor to the rising star of the French right, when he was a party leader and later as the no-nonsense interior minister.
"It is another dirty trick played against me. I am the first French politician to be treated this way," Sarkozy stormed at the time.
After a separation lasting several months, the couple were eventally reunited.
The ups and downs in the Sarkozy household have regularly been reported or hinted at in the French media ever since.
Sarkozy was last seen with Cecilia on vacation in a US resort in August where she was photographed enjoying a boat ride.
A month earlier, Sarkozy stood before thousands of guests at the Bastille Day garden party at the Elysee presidential palace and candidly praised his wife and stepdaughter, a rare emotional display for a French head of state.
"I would like to say to Cecilia and to Judith that I think they are both very beautiful," he said in remarks that made headlines the following day.
The new signs of trouble appeared this month when Sarkozy went alone to Bulgaria where he was feted for the release of the six medics from Libya that Cecilia helped negotiate as his presidential envoy to Tripoli.
Sarkozy told a Bulgarian newspaper that his wife was "hurt by the controversy that followed her intervention" and "chose to be as discreet as possible".
Early on in his presidency, Sarkozy made clear that his top concern was protecting his wife from public exposure and the pressure of being in the spotlight as an unconventional first lady.
"My only worry, really, is Cecilia," he was quoted as telling an aide.
Sarkozy wrote in his autobiography that "pressure and attacks" had become too difficult for her to bear when the couple separated in 2005.
"Even today, I have difficulty talking about it. I had never known such an ordeal. Never would I have imagined that I would be so profoundly distressed," Sarkozy wrote.
Subject: French news