1 MARCH 2008

Carla Bruni’s whirlwind introduction to life as France’s new First Lady continued on Friday when she and husband President Nicolas Sarkozy enjoyed an inspirational audience with the legendary Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

On her first official foreign trip, the model-turned-singer and the French premier shared a joke with the 89-year-old former South African president as they met with him and wife Graca Machel in their Johannesburg home. The one-time face of the anti-apartheid movement is an idol of Carla’s new other half, who keeps a photo of him in his office at Paris’s Elysee Palace.

The 40-year-old Italian is clearly revelling in her new role, charming and turning heads wherever she goes. "I really enjoyed this trip. It was a unique and very moving experience to meet Mr Mandela and to visit South Africa," she said.

The newlyweds’ visit also included a meeting with current president Thabo Mbeki in Cape Town, as well as a trip to the prison cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned under apartheid. Next month they travel to the UK as guests of Queen Elizabeth.

Photo: ©
Carla and her new husband French President Nicolas Sarkozy enjoyed a smile-filled meeting with the great Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel in their Johannesburg residencePhoto: © Rex Click on photo to enlarge
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