The age gap between Brigitte Macron, 64, and her 39-year-old husband, French President Emmanuel Macron, has come under much scrutiny since he launched his leadership bid in November 2016.
And now Brigitte’s daughter, Tiphaine Auzière, has spoken out to defend her mother from the ‘sexist and ageist’ commentary.
Interviewed before Sunday’s presidential inauguration, the 32-year-old lawyer told the French television channel BFMTV that the tone of jokes and comment on the nearly 25-year difference in age needed to be addressed: “I think we cannot remain indifferent to this, and now I do not want to give any importance to people who convey this kind of stuff, because I find it totally outrageous in France in the 21st century to make such attacks.
“These are attacks that we wouldn’t direct at male politicians or at a man who would accompany a female politician. So I think there’s a lot of jealousy, and that this is very inappropriate.”
Auzière, who is standing as a parliamentary candidate for Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche, added: “On the ground, on the contrary, I meet people who admire what she does, her work, her involvement.
“If people have nothing else to do but criticise, let them do it, it will only bring us closer together.”
Brigitte was married with three children when she first met 15-year-old Emmanuel and it remains unclear as to whether she was still his teacher when they became romantically involved.
In Anne Fulda’s book, Emmanuel Macron: A Perfect Young Man, the First Lady is quoted as saying: “Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story. That belongs to us. That is our secret.”
The age of consent in France is 15, as specified by Article 227-25 of the Penal Code.
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Over the weekend, French Republican party lawmaker Jacques Domerge reportedly joked on Facebook: “We have a new president who is a younger model of the previous one.
“Except that the previous one lived with a women who was his daughter's age and the new one with a woman who is his mother's age.”
And, last Wednesday, satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo carried a cartoon showing 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron resting a hand on the pregnant stomach of his wife, with the caption: “He's going to work miracles!”
President Macron, responding to the backlash, has insisted that his wife is the victim of “everyday misogyny”.
“If I were 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn't be an intimate partner,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.
“It's because she is 20 years older than me that lots of people say, ‘This relationship can't be tenable, it can't be possible’.”
Images: Rex Features