London, June 22 : Father of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has credited his new daughter-in-law, Carla Bruni, with reuniting the family.
In his first interview with a British newspaper, the Hungarian-born aristocrat Pal Sarkozy de Nagy Bocsa, 80, who opens an exhibition of his paintings in Madrid this week, talked about his reconciliation with the "hyper-president" from whom he had been estranged for many years.
The artist father of the French president also explained how he has made up with the son he walked out on.
When Nicolas Sarkozy's artist father telephoned the newly elected French president about a portrait he wanted to paint to mark the occasion, he had only one question: "Is it all right if I paint the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour hanging from your ear?"
His son thought about it for a moment, then replied tersely: "Okay."
He said he now got on well with Nicolas and credited the president's third wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the Italian model turned singer, with reuniting his family.
Pal became heated as he denounced biographies of his son, which shed an unflattering light on his own turbulent private life, his bitter divorce from Nicolas' mother and his rows with the future president when he was growing up.
Biographers have written of a tense relationship between Pal and Nicolas, who was three when his father left his mother for an ambassador's daughter who became his second wife.
He reportedly reprimanded Nicolas for his poor schoolwork and once said to him: "With your name and your marks at school, you won't get anywhere in France."
When it came to Bruni, Pal paid a warm tribute to her.
"She is an adorable girl, kind and charming. She has reunited our whole family. At Nicolas's wedding with Carla, there were only two families present: Carla's and ours," he said.