First lady seek­ing re­venge against source of gay ru­mours

Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD - The Times

Brigitte Macron wants re­venge on the per­son who spread ru­mours that her hus­band was in a gay re­la­tion­ship, ac­cord­ing to a new book.

Her re­marks ap­pear in an unau­tho­rised bi­og­ra­phy of Michele ‘‘Mimi’’ Marc­hand, owner of the celebrity photo agency Bes­tim­age and pub­lic re­la­tions ad­viser to French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and his wife.

Mimi de­picts the Macrons as de­pen­dent on Marc­hand, the former part­ner of an armed rob­ber who has spent time in jail and who ran les­bian night­clubs in the 1990s.

The French first lady told the au­thors, Jean-Michel De­cugis, Pauline Guena and Marc Le­p­lon­geon, that Marc­hand, 71, had taught the cou­ple how the me­dia worked.

She was es­pe­cially grate­ful to her for track­ing down the source of the ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity ru­mours about Em­manuel Macron dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign.

‘‘She knows now who dam­aged them and she calmly told us: ‘This will be eaten cold’,’’ the au­thors wrote.

As in English, the French have a say­ing that ‘‘re­venge is a dish best served cold’’.

Em­manuel Macron, 40, has de­nied the ru­mours. To counter them dur­ing the cam­paign, Marc­hand ar­ranged ‘‘fake pa­parazzi’’ pic­tures to boost his het­ero­sex­ual im­age, the book says. Pub­lished in Paris Match mag­a­zine, they showed the Macrons strolling in swim­ming cos­tumes in Biar­ritz.

Brigitte Macron, 65, told the au­thors that she trusted Marc­hand, who vis­its the El­y­see Palace once a week, but she felt iso­lated.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, we are now alone,’’ they quoted her as say­ing. ‘‘The El­y­see wants it that way. We can no longer trust any­one. I trust Em­manuel and Em­manuel trusts me. That’s it.’’

The book, to be pub­lished in France next week, de­scribes the fear that Marc­hand and her con­nec­tions in­spire in the French celebrity and po­lit­i­cal world.

Fran­cois Hol­lande, the pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent, told the au­thors he be­lieved that Marc­hand was be­hind the ex­po­sure of his li­ai­son with Julie Gayet, an ac­tress, in 2014. ‘‘The queen of the pa­parazzi’’ was dan­ger­ous, he said.

Carla Bruni, wife of former pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy, was up­set in 2016 when she heard that her friend Marc­hand had taken up with the Macrons in 2016, ac­cord­ing to French news­pa­per Lib­er­a­tion . It pub­lished a text mes­sage in which Bruni ap­peared to liken Marc­hand to a turn­coat.

‘‘I’m thrilled that Brigitte Macron has given you her trust. On my side, [I’m giv­ing you] less. At the next rev­o­lu­tion, you’ll turn your trousers?’’ the mes­sage read.

Marc­hand, who was once sacked as a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor for in­vent­ing an in­ter­view with the body­guard of Princess Diana, did not speak to the au­thors, and many of her friends were re­luc­tant to talk.

She re­mains highly vis­i­ble in the Macron en­tourage. In July, she was in the Paris flat where French news­pa­per Le Monde was in­ter­view­ing Alexan­dre Be­nalla, the former body­guard whose mis­con­duct dam­aged the pres­i­dent.

AP

A new book says Em­manuel and Brigitte Macron’s pub­lic re­la­tions ad­viser tracked down the source of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity ru­mours about the French pres­i­dent.

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