Who is Brigitte Trogneux? The would-be French first lady, 64, who used to be Emmanuel Macron's teacher

Emmanuel Marcon, the front-runner in the race to Élysée Palace, and wife, Brigitte Trogneux (Rex)
Emmanuel Marcon, the front-runner in the race to Élysée Palace, and wife, Brigitte Trogneux (Rex)

Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist who is running without the backing of a political party, has gone through to the second round of the French election.

The result, which pits the former banker and political newcomer against the far-right Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, is a rejection of traditional mainstream parties.

Macron is now favourite to win the run-off on May 7, but it’s not just his unlikely rise which has captivated the French press — but his private life, too.

If elected, his wife Brigitte Trogneux — once his teacher — will become the country’s First Lady, a woman Macron says shaped who he is.

The pair met when Trogneux, who is 25 years Macron’s senior, taught him in drama at school.

He is 39, and she’s 64, but he was just 16 when he vowed to marry her.

Trogneux was married mum-of-three at the time — and his parents tried to stop the affair, according to a new book.

“He wasn’t like the others,” Trogneux told a French documentary last year. “He wasn’t a teenager. He had a relationship of equals with other adults.”

She said that the pair became close as they started to write a play together.

“It unleashed an incredible closeness. We wrote and little by little I was totally charmed by his intelligence.

Trogneux was Marcon's drama teacher at school (Rex)
Trogneux was Marcon’s drama teacher at school (Rex)

“Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story. That belongs to us. That is our secret,” she said.

“We’d call each other all the time and spend hours on the phone,” she added. “Bit by bit, he defeated all my resistance, in an amazing way, with patience.”

Trogneux, whose family manufacture a well-known brand of chocolates, soon left her husband and began a relationship with her former pupil. The pair married in 2007.

MORE: The French election, Marine Le Pen and the rise of populism
MORE: French election: Emmanuel Macron beats Marine Le Pen

Trogneux, now has seven grandchildren, and her youngest child, 30-year-old Tiphaine Auziere, works on Macron’s campaign.

Her eldest child, son Sebastien, was born in 1975, making him two years older than her husband.

However, the couple have said they will not have children together.

The couple have become press darlings (Rex)
The couple have become press darlings (Rex)
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Anne Fulda, Macron’s biographer, told the BBC that the relationship is not only a key part of his personality, but his politics.

“He wants to give the idea that, if he was able to seduce a woman 24 years his senior and a mother of three children, in a small provincial town… despite opprobrium and mockery, he can conquer France in the same way,” she said.

The pair recently appeared on the cover of Paris Match, a weekly magazine that covers celebrity, while on holiday.

The coverage has helped cement his position as a young and charismatic upstart and hers as something of a style icon, and his closest adviser.

“She spends all her time beside him, she reads and listens to everything that is said about him. He asks her questions and takes her advice,” ghd magazine has said.

French newspaper L’Express described her as “rock’n’roll”, adding: “Not for a second does she say, I cannot wear short skirts. Ultra-high heels, sleeveless dresses, leather trousers — she dares everything.”

However, Macron has been critical of much of the coverage of his private life — in particular an accusation that the marriage is a sham to cover up his homosexuality, something he strongly denies.

The couple have been subjected to consistent press attention (Rex)
The couple have been subjected to consistent press attention (Rex)

“I have never had anything to hide,” he said. “I hear people saying that I have a secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte. Because I share all my days and nights with her she asks me how I manage it.”

Trogneux has been equal vocal in her criticism of the press. “I’ve been involved in everything at his side for 20 years,” she told reporters in October. “You always seem surprised that spouses are beside their husbands. It’s time for things to evolve.”

Yesterday, Macron, who achieved 23.75 per cent of the vote compared to Le Pen’s 21.53 per cent, said: “We have turned a page in French political history.”