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Named “godmother” to France’s first panda cub in August, French First Lady Brigitte Macron helped baptise her fluffy charge on Monday in one of her most high-profile outings since her husband’s election.

The male cub was the first ever born in France where its mother has been on loan from China since 2012, as part of Beijing’s “panda diplomacy” efforts.

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The 64-year-old French first lady cooed over the infant bear at Beauval Zoo and then watched as China’s junior foreign minister unveiled his name as Yuan Meng, which means “making a dream come true” in Chinese.

President Emmanuel Macron’s wife has kept out of the spotlight since his victory in May, assisting with major state visits and foreign trips but avoiding speaking engagements or interviews.

Faced with a hostile online petition and damaging headlines, Macron dropped plans in August to create an official First Lady status for Brigitte which would have given her a formal legal role.

Making her first speech on Monday, Brigitte said France had been “proud and happy” to host the pandas from China and that the cub was a symbol of the historic ties between the countries.  Read more