CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s prime minister said on Thursday his wife was “flattered and charmed” to be described by President Emmanuel Macron as “delicious,” a compliment that has sparked lighthearted conjecture during the French leader’s first official visit Down Under.
Macron raised eyebrows on Wednesday with his description of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s wife of 38 years, Lucy, during a Sydney press conference.
“I want to thank you for your welcome, thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome,” Macron told the prime minister.
Turnbull showed no hint of jealousy when questioned on Thursday about the compliment, which the beaming prime minister revealed he also found charming.
“Lucy was very flattered,” Turnbull told reporters. “She’s asked me to say that she found the president’s compliment as charming as it was memorable.”
“President Macron charmed Australia. He certainly charmed all of us, all the Turnbulls,” the prime minister said. “Mrs. Turnbull is both flattered and charmed as we all are.”
The president’s comment quickly sparked lighthearted reaction on social media and in the Australian press amid lively conjecture about the French leader’s intent.
Sydney’s best-selling newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, reported the comment on its front page on Thursday under the headline “President Pepe Le Pew,” likening Macron to the Warner Bros. love-sick French skunk cartoon character.
Despite Macron’s deadpan delivery, some observers felt he may have been joking. The comment was made just before lunch and he and Turnbull had made previous comments about food.
Others felt Macron may simply have slipped up in his use of English, since the French word for delicious — delicieux — also translates as “delightful.”
The more mischievous may have even considered Macron’s comment to possibly be a tongue-in-cheek reference to Trump’s visit to Paris last year, when he was caught telling Macron’s wife, Brigitte, that she was “in such great shape,” before looking to her husband and saying, “Beautiful.”
In any case, the moment made headlines in Australia as a somewhat comedic ending to a serious news conference focusing on violent May Day protests in Paris, the Iran nuclear deal and China’s growing influence.
Macron ended his trip to Sydney on Thursday with a thumbs-up and a farewell wave to the prime minister.
Macron’s next stop is the South Pacific island nation of New Caledonia, where locals are preparing for a referendum in November on whether the French territory will become independent of France.