Brigitte Macron has opened up about her marriage with the French president and the wide age gap that has drawn just as much international attention as her husband's role in office.
The 64-year-old French first lady met Emmanuel Macron, 39, about two decades ago when she was a drama teacher at his school. It's unclear when their relationship began, but the couple got married in 2007, a year after she got divorced.
"There are times in your life where you need to make vital choices," she said in an interview with Elle France. "And for me, that was it. So, what has been said over the 20 years, it's insignificant.”
The couple's age gap came under the spotlight during her husband's presidential campaign earlier this year.
“Emmanuel’s only fault is to be younger than me,” she said.
"Of course, we have breakfast together, me and my wrinkles, him with his youth, but it's like that," she said. "If I did not make that choice, I would have missed out on my life. I had a lot of happiness with my children and, at the same time, felt I had to live 'this love' as (French poet) Prevert used to say, to be fully happy."
The French president has been vocal about the attention his marriage has received, saying the criticism stems from sexism and homophobia.
"If I was 20 years older than my wife, nobody would think for a single second that we couldn’t be legitimately together," he told Le Parisien in a video interview. "It's because she is 20 years older than me that a lot of people say, 'this relationship can't be tenable, it can't be possible.'"
American President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, have the exact same age difference as the Macrons, but in reverse, although it was rarely brought up during his presidential campaign.
In July, Trump famously commented on Brigitte Macron's physical appearance when the two met during his official visit to France.
“You’re in such good shape,” Trump told her, before turning to her husband and repeating the sentiment: “She’s in such good physical shape.”