French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte Macron revealed her relationship anxieties from the early days of dating the future French leader – including concerns he would “fall in love with someone his age” after moving schools.
“My head was in a mess,” Brigitte Macron said during a rare interview, given to the outlet Paris Match, and reported in the Daily Telegraph. “For me, such a young boy was crippling.”
“Emmanuel had to leave for Paris,” Macron revealed. “I told myself that he would fall in love with someone his [own] age. It didn’t happen.”
The couple’s age difference – she, 70, and he, 45 – has remained a hot topic for the couple: Macron addressed the difference during an interview in 2017 with Elle France, telling the outlet “there are times in your life where you need to make vital choices.”
“Of course, we have breakfast together, me and my wrinkles, him with his youth, but it’s like that,” Macron told Elle at the time. “If I did not make that choice, I would have missed out on my life. I had a lot of happiness with my children and, at the same time, felt I had to live ‘this love’ as Prevert used to say, to be fully happy.”
The couple met while Brigitte taught drama at the Catholic Providence school in Amiens. Her daughter was Emmanuel’s classmate.
The newest interview, translated and reported by the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, reveals that Macron suffered significant anxiety over the age difference, which eventually caused a scandal when it came to light that she, a then-40-year-old teacher had engaged in a relationship with her 15-year-old pupil, Emmanuel.
The French age of consent is 15, which was not enforced except in cases of sexual violence until the country passed the age into law, according to Politico’s European outlet.
Emmanuel’s parents immediately decided to send him to a boarding school in Paris for the remainder of his studies, but that did not dissuade him from his relationship with Brigitte.
After Emmanuel left for Paris, Brigitte stopped teaching drama and instead headed up Latin classes. She was married but estranged from her husband for years. She divorced him shortly before marrying Emmanuel.
She also worried about how the relationship with the teenager would affect her children, who are the same age as Emmanuel. Brigitte said she waited a decade before pulling the trigger to make sure that the couple’s marriage would not deeply upset the rest of her family.
“I took time so I would not wreck their lives,” Brigitte told Match. “That lasted 10 years, the time to put them on the rails. You can imagine what they were hearing. But I didn’t want to miss out on my life.”
When the couple married in 2007, when Emmanuel was 29, he told his three stepchildren, “Thanks for accepting us, a not-quite-normal couple.”
He won election as president of France at the age of 39 – the youngest-ever president for the country and roughly the same age his wife was when they met, according to The Independent.