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France

Brigitte Macron gives up on official first lady role ... kind of

media French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French President Emmanuel Macron's wife, Brigitte, has given up on the idea of being officially declared France's first lady but her activities will be reported on the Elysée's official website and her role will be defined in a "transparency charter", she has told women's magazine Elle.

"Like my predecessors I will take on a public role, but the French people will know the resources at my disposal," Macron told Elle in her first interview since her husband's election in May.

French presidential spouses have no officials status and Macron vowed to change that situation during the election campaign.

But the idea of creating a US-style first lady's title has been dropped after an online petition against it attracted over 300,000 signatures and left-wing MPs slammed the suggestion.

Brigitte Macron concedes to their arguments in the Elle interview, which is to be published in full on Friday, commenting that "the French people elected Emmanuel, they didn't elect me".

But, she adds, "of course, they knew we were a couple".

The president's wife is expected to take up the causes of charities dealing with education and the disabled, as well as meeting visiting foreign leaders' spouses.

She reportedly receives 140 letters a day.

"We'll post my meetings and my commitments on the presidency's website, so that the French people know exactly what I'm doing," she said. "It's important to be clear about things."

Following the first lady row, it has been decided to issue a "transparency charter", which will make public the funds and staff working with the president's wife.

She also jokes about her marriage to Emmanuel Macron, who she taught when he was at school and is 25 years younger than her.

"The only problem with Emmanuel is that he's younger than me," she tells the magazine.

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