Mar 27, 2008
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British press go Carla crazy as Sarkozy visits

Mar 27, 2008

LONDON, March 27, 2008 (AFP) - Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's new wife, dominated the British press on Thursday, drawing comparisons to Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy.

Carla Bruni in London - Photo : AFP

The former Italian supermodel was pictured on the front page of nearly every major British paper, shown wearing an elegant grey Christian Dior outfit with matching beret.

Sarkozy's visit, his rare address to both Houses of Parliament and an announcement that France will increase its troop numbers in Afghanistan were, meanwhile, almost reduced to an afterthought.

The Daily Mirror probably summed up the mood of most of the country's press when it wrote in an editorial in its Thursday edition, ahead of the second day of the two-day state visit: "President Sarkozy is welcome to come again -- as long as he brings wife Carla."

The coverage was a welcome contrast to a full-frontal nude photograph of Bruni-Sarkozy dating from 1993, to be sold by Christie's auction house, published in a number of British tabloids on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail alluded to that photograph on its front page, highlighting its "Picture special on Carla's state visit (and this time she remembered to put some clothes on)", describing her inside the newspaper as the "First Lady of Chic".

Robert Hardman, a columnist for the paper, wrote that he "didn't hear anyone discussing the state of bilateral relations."

"In her immaculate little grey suit and her pillbox hat, Carla was the only topic of conversation.

"I caught two senior British officials engaged in the sort of earnest debate you don't usually hear on these grand diplomatic occasions: were we looking at a new Jackie O or more of an Audrey Hepburn or perhaps, even, a touch of Diana?"

On its front page, Daily Telegraph columnist Andrew Gimson wrote of Bruni-Sarkozy that "many of us decided at once that if we were going to be seduced by anyone, we would rather be seduced by her."

"Miss Bruni (sic) looked as demure as a convent girl, and as ready to be naughty if the spirit ... moved her."

In the midst of the coverage of Bruni-Sarkozy, editorials also welcomed Sarkozy's calls for closer relations between Britain and France, with the Financial Times noting that "both countries could profit enormously from closer co-operation."

"The seemingly heartfelt appeal of Nicolas Sarkozy ... on his state visit to Britain to upgrade the entente cordiale to an entente amicale is both welcome and timely," the business daily said in its editorial.

The Guardian echoed those sentiments, arguing in its editorial that when you "strip Mr Sarkozy's words of their gushing rhetoric ... the message that both Britain and France need each other is undeniably true."

But it was Bruni-Sarkozy who was the star of the first day of the French president's two-day state visit, with a headline on the front page of the Daily Telegraph neatly summing it up: "Sarkozy tries to seduce us but everyone loves Carla."by Prashant Rao

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