‘Madame Macron?’ ‘No, I’m the Chancellor of Germany’

There was a touching moment at the First World War centenary commemorations, when a 101-year-old woman thought Chancellor Angela Merkel was French President Emmanuel Macron's wife.

'Madame Macron?' 'No, I'm the Chancellor of Germany'
Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel meet with locals in Compiègne, including the 101-year-old woman. Photo: DPA
The moment came as the heads of state were talking to members of the crowd during an emotional ceremony on the anniversary of the end of World War One.
Merkel and Macron held hands as they shared a touching moment at the ceremony on Saturday near the town of Compiègne in northern France.
They had signed a book of remembrance in a railway carriage identical to the one in which the 1918 Armistice was sealed. Both leaders also unveiled a plaque to Franco-German reconciliation and laid a wreath during the visit.
After unveiling the plaque the two leaders began shaking hands and speaking with locals who had come to witness the event.
The 101-year-old woman, who had been watching the memorial, first enthusiastically grabbed Macron's hand. “Monsieur Macron! That is not possible! A little woman like me shaking hands with the President of the Republic. That's fantastic!” she said. 
Then she greeted Chancellor Merkel by saying: “You are Madame Macron!”
Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron share a touching moment on Saturday. Photo: DPA
“No, I am the Chancellor of Germany,” Merkel, who was accompanied by an interpreter, explained to the senior citizen, initially in German.
But the woman still didn't seem to know who she was speaking to, so Merkel tried the same sentence again in French.
Je suis la chancelière allemande,” she said. 
At this point it was still not clear whether the woman understood who Merkel is.
Macron then asked the woman to look to the cameras for a photo.
The woman said “C'est fantastique!“, before Macron kissed her goodbye. She assured him that she would be at next year's commemoration. 
The amusing and touching encounter, which was reported by German media on Monday, can be seen in full length in this video.

World leaders marked 100 years since the end of the Great War in a series of events over the weekend.
Around 70 leaders including US and Russian Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin attended centenary commemorations of the 1918 Armistice in Paris on Sunday.
“This day is not just about remembering, but should be about a call to action,” Merkel said Saturday after visiting the forest clearing in northern France where the Armistice was signed.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.