French first lady tells Le Monde her US counterpart is ‘kind, charming’ and excellent company, but is constrained by her role in Washington
Far from the stern, even glum image she presents to the public, Melania Trump in private is excellent company, according to Brigitte Macron – but unlike the French first lady, her US counterpart cannot so much as poke her nose outdoors.
Speaking to Le Monde at the end of the French presidential couple’s three-day state visit to Washington, Macron said the 48-year-old former model from Slovenia was “actually really fun. We have the same sense of humour. We laugh a lot together.”
But Melania “cannot do anything”, the French first lady said. “She can’t even open a window at the White House. She can’t go outside. She’s much more constrained than I am. I go out every day in Paris.”
Brigitte, a former French and drama teacher who recently celebrated her 65th birthday and is 25 years older than Emmanuel, her former student, insisted that contrary to popular opinion, Melania was “kind, charming, intelligent and very open”.
It was understandable she looked grim in public, she said. “Everything is interpreted, over-interpreted. She’s someone who has a strong personality, but works hard to hide it. She laughs very easily, at everything, but shows it less than I do.”
The French first lady said she, too, was aware that she had to “be careful what I say. I have the impression that every word is a word too many, I’m constantly holding myself back. That’s the hardest part: there’s never really any time off, never a moment when you can be completely calm.”
Macron said she tries to lead “a normal life”, continuing to see her son and two daughters with her first husband, banker André-Louis Auzière, and grandchildren. “I haven’t changed in my head,” she said. “I’m still the wife of Emmanuel Macron, not of the president. I don’t feel like a first lady.”
Even if “at my age, I have nothing to prove”, she said she tried to be more than just a decorative “vase of flowers” in her husband’s wake. But it was not easy: the tailored Louis Vuitton outfits she wears on public occasions were like a “skin” shielding her from the incessant spotlight, she said.