Did former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing really have an affair with Princess Diana, or is his new novel La Princesse et le Président just wishful fiction? Just when it looked as if the hot topic of the Parisian rentrée would be the trial of former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and several others in the Clearstream political scandal, along comes a much more delicious subject of conjecture.
According to the daily Le Figaro yesterday, La Princesse et le Président, to be published in France October 1 by Editions de Fallois-XO, is the story of a passionate liason between a newly re-elected French president named Jacques-Henri Lambertye and the Princess of Cardiff, with the unlikely name of Patricia, who meet for the first time at a Buckingham Palace dinner—he is a widower, she is unhappily married to a British prince who refuses to give up his long-time mistress
Henri and Pat carry on their secret romance from palace to palace on both sides of the Channel, among them Kensington, Soucy (the famous hideaway of François Mitterrand) and especially the Château de Rambouillet, Giscard d’Estang’s real-life favorite haunt for hunting parties, all described in plentiful insider detail. So smitten is President Henri that he even imagines a Franco-British union, notes Le Figaro’s Etienne de Montety: “Love being blind and ignoring the world, he sweeps aside the Hundred Years War, Jeanne d’Arc and Napoleon….”
Literarily speaking, it’s an upmarket romance novel, although it’s full of references to Giscard d’Estaing’s favorite authors, from Maupassant and Stendhal to Alexandre Dumas—and not unlike the clandestine affair in The Three Musketeers, between France’s Queen Anne and the Duke of Buckingham.
But could it possibly be true? Giscard d’Estaing was well-known to be a great, gallant and courteous admirer of beautiful women, but he was untouched by any scandal on that account. Naysaysers point out their great difference in age—some 35 years—and the general improbability of the idea. In any case, concludes Le Figaro society columnist Stéphane Bern,
Le Président will probably be laughing all the way to the top of the bestseller list with his well-calculated “farce”.
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