Cecilia skips Bush date, French fume

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 14.08.07

Paris, Aug. 13 (Reuters): Capricious, mercurial or just unlucky? The failure of France’s First Lady to show up to lunch with President George W. Bush has once again raised questions about Cecilia Sarkozy’s character.

President Nicolas Sarkozy unexpectedly arrived alone for the informal gathering at a Bush family compound in Maine on Saturday near the luxury lakeside residence where the French leader and his wife are spending their holidays. Sarkozy said his wife was suffering from a severe sore throat and could not make the journey, but the fact that Cecilia was spotted shopping with friends on both Friday and Sunday raised eyebrows back home.

The no-show came just weeks after Cecilia made a spectacular foray into international politics by apparently helping to broker the release of Bulgarian medics imprisoned in Libya, and left commentators puzzling over her motives. “With every day that passes, the mystery deepens: Who is Cecilia Sarkozy?” French regional newspaper Le Telegramme wrote in its Monday edition. “What does the wife of the President of the republic want? To live her life as she likes, without constraint? In which case, why does she accept invitations, like that made personally by Laura Bush?” it added, saying that US First Lady Laura had personally organised the lunch with Cecilia.

French papers quoted doctors as saying sore throats could flare like a summer storm, but it was not the first time that Cecilia had failed to stand by her man. After playing virtually no part in her husband’s election campaign earlier this year, she famously failed to turn out to vote for him in the second round ballot on May 6. This snub provoked widespread speculation that the couple were set to divorce, but Cecilia proved the gossip-mongers wrong by turning up at her husband’s inauguration .