Emmanuel Macron blasts rumours about his marriage
FRENCH President-elect Emmanuel Macron has spoken out about the world's preoccupation with the age difference between himself and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux.
Four days after Macron's newly established party, En Marche, convincingly beat the National Front party to win the French election with 66.06 percent of the vote, the 39-year-old has reluctantly addressed the pesky elephant in the room.
In a video for Le Parisien, Macron criticized society's double standards and slammed speculation that he cannot be in love with his wife - who is 24 years his senior - saying he has no patience for the sexism and "rampant homophobia" behind the suggestions, Whimn reports.
"If I had been 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn't be legitimately together," he said. "It's because she is 20 years older than me that lots of people say, 'This relationship can't be tenable.'"
Macron also dismissed rumors that he is gay and his marriage is just for show. People who believe his relationship with Trogneux could not be authentic have "lost their sense of reality," he said.
"It says a lot about the misogyny in France," he added. "There is a big problem with the presentation of society and how they see the place of a woman."
For comparison, there is almost the same age difference between President Donald Trump, 70, and his wife Melania, 47, as there is between Macron, 39, and Trogneux, 64.
The relationship between the high-profile pair has captivated the European nation and the rest of the world. Trogneux was once Macron's school drama teacher, whom he met at the age of 15. She later became his partner and eventually his wife when the couple married in 2007.
But Trogneux - who has seven grandchildren - has also been his mentor and inspiration throughout his career, offering advice on speeches and strategy during the campaign. "Without her, I wouldn't be me," he declared after winning the first round of voting in April.
Trogneux will assume a newly defined, unpaid role at the Élysée once her husband steps into his role as president.
"Love took everything in its path and led me to divorce. It was impossible to resist him," Trogneux told Paris Match magazine in 2016, referring to her 2006 divorce from banker Andre Louis Auziere, with whom she has three children.
In 2015, she gave up her career to focus on her husband, who was at the time France's economy minister.
Newly elected Macron has said he wants to change the role of the first lady in France to make it a more active and politically engaged position. He said during the presidential campaign that he "wants to be recognized as a feminist by women."