10 Things You Didn't Know About Cécilia Sarkozy

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Compiled by the U.S. News library staff

1. Cécilia Maria Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz was born on Nov. 12, 1957, just south of Paris. Her mother was the daughter of a Spanish diplomat and her father was a Russian émigré of Jewish descent who would later run a furrier shop in Paris. Cécilia has three brothers.

2. Cécilia attended a Catholic school and studied piano. She started studying law at university but left to begin modeling. She also spent some time working in public relations.

3. In 1984, Cécilia married Jacques Martin, a French television star. The ceremony was presided over by the young, married mayor of Neuilly—Nicolas Sarkozy.

4. The families became friends, even vacationing together, and the two eventually began an affair. Both remained in their marriages, each having two children (she two daughters, he two sons). Cécilia would soon leave her husband and divorce, but it would take Nicolas longer to become single. The two finally married and had a son, Louis, in 1997.

5. Cécilia has held positions as an adviser to her husband and has occasionally been called "the control tower" (referencing not only her taller height, by 5 inches, but the strong guidance she provides her husband—in his political life, as well as in his choice of clothes and what he eats).

6. She once boasted that she does not have a "drop of French blood" in her veins.

7. In 2005, marital troubles were reported between the two. Cécilia was running around with another man, and Paris Match published proof in photos. The Sarkozys split, and Cécilia lived in New York with Louis. Even though Nicolas reportedly found consolation in the arms of another woman during this time, he made a huge effort to woo Cécilia back. Months later, the two would reconcile, with wife and son returning to Europe.

8. Cécilia's stamp was all over Nicolas's swearing-in ceremony. She drew up the guest list and ordered the band to play a piece written by her great-grandfather (the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz). She and Nicolas wore outfits from the designer house Prada (an Italian brand).

9. In summer 2007, Cécilia was instrumental in arranging the release of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor held in Libya. The six, convicted of infecting hundreds of children with HIV, were facing life in prison. Cécilia made two trips to Libya to push for their release and eventually had them flown out of the country on the French presidential plane. Observers complained that the Sarkozys were stealing the glory that was really due to the European Union and the years of diplomacy that had already taken place. Additionally, others pointed out that Cécilia held no official, elected position and argued that she should not be involved in such affairs.

10. ''I don't see myself as a first lady,'' she was once quoted as saying. ''That bores me. I am not politically correct.''

Sources:
Agence France Presse
Associated Press
BBC News
The Independent (London)
International Herald Tribune
The Observer (England)
Newsweek
New York Times
Sunday Review
Sunday Times (London)