Bruni, who is keen to visit the Taj Mahal with Sarkozy; (below) Princess Diana, who had to visit the monument alone in 1992
New Delhi, Jan. 22: The promise of an ogle-fest on Rajpath vanished today with French President Nicolas Sarkozys girlfriend Carla Bruni saying she will not accompany her beau on his official visit to India.
Sarkozy is expected in New Delhi this Friday to be the chief guest at the Republic Day ceremony the next morning.
The prospect of Bruni escorting the French President meant that the highlight of this years annual parade would be in the galleries.
But now the hungry paparazzi have to reconcile themselves to clicking — like every year — flatulent horses of the Presidents bodyguard that traditionally lead the march.
I cannot take part in an official trip with the President, Bruni was quoted in the newspaper Liberation today.
For Indias diplomats who were unsure about the protocol to be followed for the French Presidents girlfriend, the news brings some relief.
The French embassy in New Delhi is also understood to have forwarded a list of a 60-member delegation accompanying Sarkozy. Brunis name is not in it.
But this does not mean that Bruni will not be in India. In the same interview to Liberation, Bruni was asked if she and Sarkozy were man and wife. She said they were not yet married but that it is in our plans.
Sarkozy and Bruni have in the past given evidence of their love for historical monuments. They romanced among the pyramids of Egypt and at the Petra in Jordan earlier this month. The couple are also keen to visit the Taj Mahal.
The French President has made no secret of his affair with Bruni. It is difficult to imagine the lover in Sarkozy visiting the 17th-century monument to love alone. Security officials in Delhi say the French President is likely to go on a private visit after the end of his official engagements that conclude with an at-home in Rashtrapati Bhavan on 26th evening.
The possibility of Bruni joining him that night and making a quick trip to the Taj the next day is high. Sixteen years ago, in 1992, Princess Diana visited the Taj by herself, unaccompanied by Prince Charles. That was the first sign that their marriage was on the rocks.
Sarkozy and Bruni, who began their romance only in December, two months after the President divorced his wife of 11 years, would not want to project that image, especially now that she has said they are planning to marry.
The conversion of the Sarkozy-Bruni visit to the Taj — if indeed it is on — into a private engagement rids Indias protocol officers of a headache. Over the past one month, India has been the third country to be thrown into a quandary over the protocol to be followed while hosting the French President and his girlfriend.
Last fortnight, Saudi Arabia bluntly told the French to send their President to Jeddah minus Bruni. In Egypt, the government said Bruni and Sarkozy were on a private holiday before his official trip began.
And now, the British press reports, Queen Elizabeth is agonising over whether she should assign Sarkozy and Bruni a single bedroom in the Windsor. Sarkozy is to visit London in March.
Wedlock, or the pronouncement of it by the Taj, would make it easier for the English to accommodate the French.