PARIS, France, March 11, 2010— -- France first lady Carla Bruni has defended her marriage to President Nicolas Sarkozy, responding to rumors of infidelity swirling around France's first couple by telling British television that her husband "would never have affairs."
Asked if she trusted her husband, Bruni told Sky News TV, "Oh, yes, very much. He would never have affairs. And have you ever seen a picture of him having an affair?" Bruni said, giving her interviewer a piercing stare in the exchange released Wednesday and recorded last Friday.
Bruni also described her relationship with Sarkozy as a "real fairy tale" and said she hoped her marriage would last forever. "I guess marriage should be forever, but, um, who knows what happens. I wish it was forever, that's my hope, but we could be dead tomorrow," she said.
Rumors that both Sarkozy and Bruni were having extramarital affairs were started by a single tweet a couple of weeks ago, and have since then been picked up by the international media.
"Carla Bruni couche avec Biolay #rumeur # Sarkococu" said the Twitter post a couple of weeks ago. Translation: "Carla Bruni sleeps with Biolay," suggesting the former-supermodel-turned-singer is cheating with Benjamin Biolay, an award-winning French singer six years her junior.
Sarkozy, meanwhile, is said to have found comfort in the arms of his ecology minister, Chantal Jouanno, 40, a married karate champion who captured her 13th national title last weekend. The French presidential palace, the Elysee, has refused to comment.
The speculation grabbed headlines in foreign media, mainly British, but major French media are wavering between silence, allusion and backpedaling.
A blog last weekend in France's Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche said, "It's the gossip of the moment that could become the story of the year. ... The presidential marriage is breathing its last breaths." But the blog has since been suppressed, a move the newspaper attributed to the "seriously prejudicial nature to the private life of the remarks made."
On television, the 24-hour news channel i-tele referred more or less directly to the speculation that France's first couple is engaged in extramarital activity when a commentator remarked that Bruni was the first to congratulate Biolay when he won a music award last Saturday, and wondered whether Sarkozy had found the time to applaud Jouanno on her karate title.
Historically, the French press avoids commenting on the private lives of its presidents. For years, the French media knew about the existence of President Francois Mitterand's daughter from an extramarital affair, but it was not until shortly before Mitterand's death that the French public learned about his secret daughter.