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Post-scandal, French first lady to visit India

Paris French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler will make her first public appearance since it emerged President Francois Hollande was cheating on her with an actress, with a trip to India next week for charity work.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2014 22:02 IST
French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler,President Francois Hollande,French actress Julie Gayet

French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler will make her first public appearance since it emerged President Francois Hollande was cheating on her with an actress, with a trip to India next week for charity work.

Trierweiler was hospitalised for a week after news broke of Hollande's affair with 41-year-old French actress Julie Gayet, and has since been holed up in a presidential retreat outside Paris as her future remains unclear.

She will visit Mumbai for two days from Monday on a trip organised by French relief organisation Action Against Hunger (ACF) which had been planned long in advance.

Trierweiler, who left hospital last Saturday where she was treated for a bout of "tiredness" brought on by the scandal, had been invited in her official capacity, said ACF.

The charity is paying for the trip, which is financed mostly by private Indian partners.

In Mumbai, Trierweiler will visit a hospital where ACF has a feeding project for malnourished children and witness a training programme for medical staff. She will lunch with the wives of top local businessmen and then attend a charity gala dinner at the city's posh Taj Mahal hotel. A news conference is also planned but Trierweiler may not address the media, ACF said.

She will be shown around the city by French actress Charlotte Valandrey, who is involved in the cause of promoting organ donations and transplants.

First Lady denies 'clarification' remarks

The trip comes after a spat between Trierweiler and her lawyer, Frederique Giffard, who said on Thursday that the 48-year-old first lady was aware that a "clarification" on her tangled situation was due.

Giffard remained evasive on the question of whether they would split, saying: "The president and my client are thinking. The decision is theirs alone. It is very difficult for Valerie Trierweiler to remain calm in the face of this media and political pressure. But she is aware that a clarification is necessary."

But Trierweiler reacted furiously to the lawyer's remarks and chastened Giffard for speaking without her permission.

Her chief of staff Patrice Biancome said he was "the sole person authorised to speak in the name of Valerie Trierweiler", an announcement interpreted as a sign that she considered herself first lady and that no clarification was necessary as far as she was concerned.

Hollande had promised in a mid-January news conference that he would publicly define what sort of relationship he and Trierweiler are in before going on a February 11 state visit to Washington.

The 59-year-old leader has so far made no official comment on whether France still has a first lady.

But the popular Le Parisien headlined its lead story with the title: "First Lady, it's over."

Trierweiler, a feisty figure who has worked for the magazine Paris Match and was dubbed "Rottweiler" by detractors, was initially a discreet companion of Hollande when he was with a fellow Socialist Party heavyweight, Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children.

She emerged into the spotlight before he was elected president, and warned she would not be a wallflower, saying in April 2012: "I have character, they cannot muzzle me."

That was quickly proven when Trierweiler tweeted her support in legislative elections for an independent rival of Royal, someone with whom the first lady did not have warm relations.

The tweet went down badly in France, and Trierweiler's reputation suffered, with many deeming her somewhat haughty and arrogant.

But she has not commented on the latest scandal since French glossy Closer broke news of the affair on January 10.

She only tweeted after being released from hospital on January 19 to thank her supporters.

After Hollande was elected president, Trierweiler took a leave of absence from Paris Match and engaged in charitable activities.

She visited India in February last year on an official trip with Hollande and went to a shelter for street children in the capital New Delhi.

First Published: Jan 24, 2014 22:00 IST