Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy say that new baby will be private affair

Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy don't shy away from the limelight, but they seem determined to keep their newborn daughter out of the public eye.

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
French President Nicolas Sarkozy receives an oak tree as a gift after the birth of his daughter during a visit of a recycling factory near Laval, western France, Thursday. Sarkozy, the first French president to have a baby while in office, said Thursday he and his wife, Carla Bruni, feel 'a very profound happiness' over the birth of their first child and added that mother and daughter are doing 'very well.'

The birth of a baby girl last night to former supermodel and singer Carla Bruni and her president-of-France husband looked to be a chart-busting story.

Ms. Bruni has not been shy in public since marrying Nicolas Sarkozy. She released songs about her husband, appeared in a recent Woody Allen film, and scores higher in popularity polls than he does. Mr. Sarkozy likes good press and the story looked like a revisit of the sentimental media frenzy around the Blair baby born on Downing Street in 2000. There’s a long history of French public interest in their president’s children.

Yet it seems the main theme of this birth is privacy. Despite the media packed outside the La Muette maternity clinic for a week, the Elysee Palace gave out only clipped confirmations of the birth. Mr. Sarkozy today said he feels a “very great happiness” and that the two main females in his life are “are doing fine.”

Ms. Bruni, Italian-born and heiress to a fortune, has said she will fight to keep all images of the child away from the media, particularly the British media, which is known in France for its paparazzi approach and frequent mockery of the French. A legal team is said to be preparing letters to European media requesting and implicitly warning them not to intrude.

In some ways, the French public also respects this policy of privacy. Mr. Sarkozy’s negatives stem from his dashing about town and jetting around Europe with an ostentation not shared by more traditional French presidents. He's been called “President Bling-Bling.” As some bloggers note, a recent, faint rise in Sarkozy’s approval ratings ahead of the 2012 elections has corresponded with a new silence by him and an effort to convey an aura of presidential gravitas, which the French want.

Sarkozy has certainly given the appearance of being on the job during the birth, wedging in trips to the maternity clinic between visits to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and a trip to a recycling center today.

So far, no name has been officially announced for the newborn girl. In a recent interview, Bruni said her husband has a penchant for flowers, so the name Iris or Violette have been bandied about Paris. Some media and Twitter reports say the name will be Dahlia.

With the birth, Sarkozy continues a string of ‘firsts’ for a French president. He is the first French president to divorce in office, to marry in office, and now, to have a child born while an occupant of the Elysee Palace.

In a recent interview, Bruni, whose past boyfriends include Mick Jagger, called her husband “a different kind of president” and said that “marrying him is very rock and roll for me.” The fact that Bruni is the first first lady to give birth while living at the Palace is an example of “the modern world going into the French Republic, which is not bad," she says.

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