By Henry Samuel
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has advised French first lady Valerie Trierweiler to marry because becoming a “legitimate wife” eases the “general worry” of being in the public eye.
Two thirds of the French now disapprove of Miss Trierweiler, who moved into the Elysée Palace with her partner, President Francois Hollande, in May.
Their disaffection for the 47-year old Paris Match journalist has been attributed to her confusing relationship with the Socialist leader and her public feuding with his ex-partner.
In her first interview since leaving the Elysée six months ago, Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy suggested the twice-divorced Miss Trierweiler become the wife of Mr Hollande, who has never married.
“I think it is simpler to be the legitimate wife of the head of state rather than being his partner,” she told the new edition of French Elle magazine.
She added: “Maybe I’m wrong and their choice is a modern one. But for my part I felt a real easing of the general worry about me when I married Nicolas.”
“It is through this intimate commitment that, curiously, I found my place in public life,” she said, adding: “I voluntarily put myself in this passive position as it was by far the simplest.”
While she said she “refused to judge” her successor, Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy also made it clear she believed Miss Trierweiler should give up her journalism career during her boyfriend’s presidency.
“It’s complex and difficult because journalism, even the cultural kind, is supposed to be a counter-power—that’s even one of its prime purposes to me.” Miss Trierweiler continues to write a culture column in Paris Match but has ditched political journalism and plans to present a TV programme.
Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, 45, the Italian-born former supermodel turned pop singer, became the third wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy after a whirlwind romance lasting less than three months.
Shortly before tying the knot, the one-time lover of a string of celebrities including rock stars Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton had told Madame Figaro that “monogamy bores me”.
An ex-wife of one of her conquests had even described her as a “praying mantis with a terminator smile”.
But she morphed overnight into a demure, doting first lady whose style and composure helped her frenetic husband rally in opinion polls.
In the interview with Elle, Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy appeared to pour cold water on speculation that her conservative husband might mount a political comeback.
“His return seems improbable, although I am no expert on movements in politics,” said Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, who dropped the “luvvie Left” to become a fervent supporter of Mr Sarkozy’s Right-wing policies when she entered the Elysée.
She said she was still “flabbergasted that the French deprived themselves of him”.
The singer and songwriter also announced she would bring out her fourth album early next year.
Miss Trierweiler’s honeymoon period with the French ended in June when she posted a tweet supporting a political rival of Ségolène Royal, Mr Hollande’s longtime ex-partner and mother of his four children.
The tweet was a huge embarrassment to Mr Hollande and resulted in his three sons and daughter refusing to speak to her. She has since apologised.
The French were shocked earlier this month when a biography claimed Miss Trierweiler had at one stage been in a ménage à trois with Mr Hollande and Patrick Devedjian, a married conservative minister.
At the time, Miss Trieweiller was also still married and Mr Hollande was living with Miss Royal.
Bruni-Sarkozy appeared to pour cold water on speculation that her conservative husband might mount a political comeback.
Both Miss Trierweiler and Mr Devedjian are suing for defamation and breach of privacy.
Last week, the first lady admitted she had “stumbled” in the first months of her new role but would now embrace humanitarian causes.
Since losing his presidential immunity, Mr Sarkozy is facing a string of criminal allegations, including claims that he accepted illegal cash from Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal heiress and France’s richest woman.
The former president hopes to follow in his friend Tony Blair’s footsteps by joining the lucrative international conference circuit.
After his first conference in New York last week, he and his wife reportedly came away with over $1,000 worth of restaurant takeout to enjoy on their private jet.
Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy yesterday said: “I’ve always enjoyed a privileged existence, but I’m not a billionaire and I don’t go around in a helicopter I like calm and everyday life.”