Saturday 18 November 2017

Carla -- a modern-day Marie Antoinette

She may be beautiful and rich, but Carla Bruni is not popular among the French, writes Aoife Drew

Off with her head! That's what Fre-nch people are thinking right now about the lovely 'tête' of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, their first lady. She's just been voted France's most irrit-ating artist in an online survey commissioned by French glossy magazine VSD.

Although there is a wide range of other annoying celebrities to choose from over here in la belle France (think: footballer Thierry Henry, the ever-pouting Vanessa Paradis, or open-shirted philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy) Carla has beaten them all.

According to the survey of 1,713 adults, the ex-supermodel aggravates 52 per cent of interviewees. Impressively, in the 25-31 year age group, she gets on the nerves of 61 per cent of voters.

But what has this stunning femme fatale done to exasperate her fellow citizens so much?

The French are, put simply, sick of seeing Carla everywhere, all the time, on TV screens, newspapers and magazines. She is suffering from a bad case of over-exposure, especially now: since the couple's recent trade visit to India, the media has been in a frenzy of speculation as to whether Mme Sarkozy will fall pregnant in the coming months.

Apparently, whilst visiting the shrine of a Sufi saint in the city of Fatehpur Sikri, Carla prayed for a baby. A holy man told the couple that when Mogul emperor Akbar prayed for a son at the shrine, he had been blessed with four children.

Bruni, 43, who has a nine-year-old son, Aurelien, was very interested in the legend, explaining she wanted to have a child with Mr Sarkozy. He has three boys -- Pierre, Jean and Louis -- from two former marriages.

"Inshallah her wish will come true," the guardian of the shrine said, saying he had prayed for her and "breathed into a sacred thread," which he tied around Bruni's wrist, in an effort to help the prayer succeed.

Following the trip, the Sarkozys spent Christmas in Morocco and no doubt Carla's waistline will be forensically examined this spring by the likes of Paris Match and Gala, the French equivalents of OK! magazine and Hello.

But quite apart from her sex life and past affairs becoming a topic of national interest, finally prompting a feeling of overload, many would rather see serious political issues grab the headlines. And, her banal, safe responses to interview questions when asked for political commentary certainly don't impress.

The fact that she is filthy rich also, according to VSD, has a lot to do with her current lack of popularity.

Not only is her family super wealthy (her father was heir to the CEAT Italian tire manufacturing fortune) but she has made millions out of her various careers as catwalk queen, singer-songwriter and most recently as an actress in a Woody Allen film.

And now she's married to the president, who has a decent salary himself, of approximately €240,000 per annum. So, it's not surprising that the average French person feels he/she has little in common with this couple who clearly belong to the highest echelons of the upper class, or haute bourgeoisie.

Indeed, with 12 per cent unemployment, the retirement age being edged up and tax increases being thrown in for good measure, it's understandable that ordinary folk are a tad envious of the first couple's jet-set lifestyle. Carla is in danger of being seen as a modern-day Marie Antoinette.

Sunday Independent

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