Paris - Jilted French first lady Valerie Trierweiler on Sunday night arrived in India to begin a “Princess Diana-style” charity trip - while insisting she is still in love with Francois Hollande.
Trierweiler, 48, set off for Mumbai within hours of Hollande confirming their separation - and the end of her time as first lady - in a brusque 18-word statement.
It led to her being mocked by senior women politicians, with former health minister Roselyne Bachelot tweeting: “Valerie - the new Diana?”
Princess Diana famously devoted herself to humanitarian and charitable causes following her divorce from Prince Charles.
Trierweiler arrived at Mumbai airport soon after midnight local time, and was swamped with photographers as she made her way to a waiting limousine. She looked relaxed after enjoying first-class service on the Air France flight.
She will have a bodyguard and her old chief of staff, Patrice Biancone, with her during the trip to India.
An Elysee Palace aide said this was to ensure they can “keep an eye” on a woman who is now viewed as a loose cannon who could do a great deal of harm to Hollande.
It will be the last time Trierweiler - a Paris Match journalist - enjoys government support on a foreign trip, the aide insisted.
On Saturday, Trierweiler was seen apparently visiting a beauty salon on the eve of her trip.
It was the first time she has been seen in public since photographs were published on January 10 proving the president was having an affair with the actress Julie Gayet, 41.
The twice-divorced Trierweiler is thought to be behind reports in Sunday’s Le Parisien which contain “a friend” saying: “What’s sad for her, is not so much leaving the Elysee and all its decorum, but losing the man whom she loves.”
Trierweiler refused to sign a legal agreement confirming the separation, leaving Hollande to announce it by himself in a phone call to news agency AFP on Saturday.
Hollande is now expected to remain a “bachelor president”, while continuing with his relationship with Gayet outside the Elysee.
Trierweiler’s trip to India has been organised and partly funded by the charity Action Contre La Faim (Fight Against Hunger) and will see her staying at the five-star Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, back in Paris, a protest against Hollande descended into violence. A mass “Day of Anger” demonstration saw 120 000 people taking to the streets, according to organisers. But by the evening, riot police were out on the streets as protesters went on the rampage.
There were at least 150 arrests, mainly for public order offences, and 20 officers were injured. - Daily Mail