A ‘beta’ for Bruni

Published: July 4, 2011

Why would an accomplished, wealthy celebrity, one-half of progressive France’s power couple who already have a total of four sons and one grandson between them, be so interested in producing yet another male child? PHOTO: REUTERS

Life in the upper echelons of European society can sometimes be as gender biased as it is on our side of the globe. On the one hand, there are Drottningholm Palace of Sweden, that has followed equal primogeniture in their law of succession since 1980, and the Buckingham Palace that plans to do the same to enable William and Kate’s firstborn boy or girl to succeed to the throne after the future King William. On the other hand, there’s Èlysée Palace, home to President Sarkozy of the Republic of France, where (as reports suggest) the First Lady, Ms Carla Bruni, is desirous of producing a mini-Sarkozy to uplift their public image and help her husband win another presidential term.

According to various sources, the glamorous, 44-year-old Carla Bruni prayed to specifically conceive a baby boy when visiting the shrine of Hazrat Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikhri, India, with her 56-year-old husband last winter.

Why would an accomplished, wealthy celebrity, one-half of progressive France’s power couple who already have a total of four sons and one grandson between them, be so interested in producing yet another male child?

After all, the celebrity world does not reflect partiality towards little boys with its obsession with celeb baby bumps. In fact, the paparazzi seem more ‘focused’ on female celebrity offspring: the media’s darling is little Suri Cruise and her million dollar wardrobe and antics and, probably, Baby Beckham number 4 (David and Victoria Beckham are ecstatically expecting a baby girl this week after producing their mini-football team of three sons, and we can expect her to be photographed a lot more than her brothers).

On the global political arena, there are no less than 20 female heads of state in office at the time of this article (28 if you count monarchs).

In many Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries with an inherent machismo culture, an infant phallus is often preferred to little female bundles of joy. One can even assume this to be the case in some traditional Italian families, where men continue to live with their mothers well into their middle age so there is a strong maternal longing for producing sons. However, this is hardly expected in très libéral, unconventional France, where hijab is illegal, extramarital affairs are an acceptable mode of society, and where women are certainly not pressured to produce sons. So it’s flabbergasting that the country’s First Lady inexplicably prayed for another son at a Sufi mazar.

Pregnancy rumours

“I would love to have children with Nicolas. I hope to, if I am young enough. It would be a dream.” (Carla Bruni, Vanity Fair magazine, 2008).

Gala magazine reported Bruni’s desire in 2009 to have a male child with Sarkozy in 2012 and, failing to do so, planned to adopt one. This year, Bruni fuelled rumours by replacing her slinky gowns and stilettos with looser silhouettes and ballet flats. She also declined to attend the premiere of her Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which led to further speculation in the French media. The June cover for Elle magazine (French edition) only served to confirm the pregnancy, depicting Bruni with a generous abdomen and a glowing complexion.

A brood of boys

From their previous relationships, Bruni has eight-year old Aurelian, and Sarkozy has 25-year-old Pierre, 23-year-old Jean (whose wife Jessica has had a baby boy), and 12-year-old Louis – a considerable amount of testosterone as it is!

The President’s father, Pal Sarkozy, expressed the hope that the couple’s future child would be “a girl as beautiful” as his daughter-in-law even though the couple reportedly seems disinterested in having a daughter.

Carla herself was born from a love affair between her mother, concert pianist Marisa Borini, and a young Brazillian classical guitarist, Maurizio Remmert. Carla grew up thinking that her step father, the late Italian billionaire Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, was her biological father.

An heiress, model and pop star, Bruni has had several high profile romances with celebrities including Mick Jagger, and her son Aurelian was the result of a relationship with then-married philosopher Raphael Enthoven. After being introduced to Nicolas Sarkozy at a dinner party by advertising executive Jacques Seguela, the divorced President Sarkozy said to her:

“You’ll be my Marilyn to my JFK” (as described in Seguela’s biography).

Eighty days later, they were husband and wife.

Mujhe larka de

Last winter, the Sarkozys made an official trip to India and paid a visit to the mazar of Hazrat Shaikh Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikhri, famed for assisting childless people with conceiving male children including Emperor Akbar, whose wife Jodha conceived Prince Salim (later Emperor Jehangir) soon after visiting Salim Chisti and built the shrine afterwards.

With Bruni wearing a shawl atop her head, the couple wore soft soled socks and carried a blanket of roses as an offering and tied a kalava at the latticed marble windows of the dargah before requesting a qawwali from Aziz Chisti.

The Sarkozys also spoke with the mazar’s ancestral guardian, Peerzada Rais Mian Chisti:

“I told them this (shrine) grants wishes to (the) jobless, unmarried and childless. He (Sarkozy) asked me to pray for him and wish him success … Carla said ‘Pray for me, I want a son’ and I prayed for them…They followed the customs and seemed very happy…Begum Sarkozy (is an) extremely family oriented lady” (Sources: PTI, The Telegraph and Sufitimes.com).

Un petit garçon

In recent months, Bruni’s mother mentioned that she was expecting a grandchild, while the couple’s matchmaking friend, Jacques Seguela, confirmed that it was a boy in an interview with Le Soir magazine.

A political tool?

The Sarkozys aren’t exactly the most popular couple in France at the moment; last year, Carla Bruni was voted France’s most irritating celebrity in a poll, while Sarkozy came in fourth in France’s most irritating politicians. European media mostly agrees that the birth is ideally timed before Sarkozy begins campaigning for the presidential elections in May 2012:

- Le Post mocked the pregnancy with, “Is this child going to appear at birth with a press release aimed at disproving everything ever said about its parents?”

- Gala magazine reported, “The child would also be a way of silencing everything that has been said and written about their relationship in the French media.”

- Le Parisien newspaper stated, “Carla Bruni’s constant presence in the media clearly gets on a lot of people’s nerves.”

- In a biography on Carla Bruni, author Besma Lahouri described her as being one of her husband’s biggest handicaps to getting re-elected.

Can a Bruni-Sarkozy beta change all that? We’ll have to wait and see.

laleen.khan

Laaleen Khan

An international columnist and media consultant who Tweets @laaleen

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • imran wajid

    misogyny is alive and kicking all over the world.it is time we had our media raise its voice against our society’s obsession with having an army of ‘waaris’ .so many times i’ve heard the remark ” ab unki family puri hogai hai” after the birth of a son.why is a family not complete with teh birth of daughters? why are sons such a necessity for our people.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/sophasnain Sophia Husnain

    Laleen, how is it any of your business to wonder why the couple want another kid? Just mind your own business for heaven’s sake. Its so saddening to seem women writing only and only about fashion, such personal issues of celebrity couples like the above one, misogynism and women rights. Don’t you see any other topics? Trust me there are many other issues which need our attention. Recommend

  • http://laaleen.blogspot.com Laaleen

    We write about it because you read about it. Kidding…actually, we care, that’s why :) People in political office are voluntarily in the public eye; this wasn’t meant to be a personal attack but a cultural comparisonRecommend

  • http://laaleen.blogspot.com Laaleen
  • phosphorescence

    As far as I have seen in Europe, there are just as many couples who wants boys as there are couples who want girls. I would say that most don’t care either way, as long as their child is happy and healthy.

    Besides, the hijab is not illegal in France; face coverings in public places are. It is just as illegal to walk down the street wearing a motorcycle helmet with a visor as it is to wear a niqab. Religious symbols, including the hijab, the full Sikh turban, the kippa, crosses etc. are all prohibited in French public schools. They are not banned in public places. I am not expressing an opinion, I am merely stating the facts. Recommend

  • orya

    Bruni longing for a male child, which the author heard from various unreported sources was a very interesting topic for a blog. Like seriously ?? :SRecommend

  • Umair Waheed Sheikh, Khayban e Hafiz,Karachi

    I hope they name the boy umair waheed. I will be so over the moon.Bruni is one girl I will like to have the bragging rights to and calling her mom will be the biggest.Recommend

  • Junaid

    nice article. pleasure to read. thnx for writingRecommend