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France

Doubts over ‘first lady’ role as Trierweiler heads to India

© Liberation front cover from June 13, 2012

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-24

Valérie Trierweiler is due to travel to India on Sunday in support of a humanitarian charity, amid mounting confusion over her role as French “first lady” and whether or not she will be representing France.

The forthcoming visit to Bombay follows a week-long stay in hospital for “exhaustion” in the wake of revelations that her partner, French President François Hollande, had an alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41.

Aid group Action Against Hunger had invited Trierweiler to India in her “official capacity” before the scandal erupted.

Hollande, currently visiting the Pope at the Vatican, had promised in a mid-January press conference that he would publicly define his relationship with Trierweiler before going on a February 11 state visit to the USA.

The president has so far made no official comment on whether France still has a first lady – although this has never been an official position in France.

Mounting confusion

On Thursday, Trierweiler’s lawyer Frédérique Giffard told Le Figaro her client wanted a "clarification" on the issue, adding that she wanted to put the scandal behind her “in the most dignified manner” and that she had “no wish to tarnish the president”.

But Trierweiler promptly accused Giffard of speaking without her permission, and sacked the lawyer.

Her official spokesman Patrice Biancome added that he was "the only person authorised to speak in the name of Valérie Trierweiler", an announcement that has been interpreted as a sign that she still considers herself first lady.

Earlier in the week, Bernadette Chirac, wife of former president Jacques Chirac, called the idea of having a first lady “ridiculous”, while a BVA poll published on Friday showed that a majority of French people (54 percent) rejected the idea of a president’s spouse or partner having any kind of official role.

Trierweiler remains holed up at the La Lanterne presidential residence in Versailles outside Paris after leaving hospital last Saturday. 

Date created : 2014-01-24

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