French President Emmanuel Macron is the direct descendant of a British First World War hero, the Daily Mirror can reveal.
Bristol-born shopkeeper George William Robertson, who had three secret children across the Channel, is the President’s great-grandfather.
The middle daughter Jacqueline went on to marry into the Macron family in northern France.
George, born in 1887, was a soldier who received a medal fighting in the Battle of the Somme, near where Macron’s ancestors originated in France.
We have also unearthed the first known photograph of George, taken in London in the 1940s after his return to the UK.
It means 39-year-old Macron – who swept to power in May – is technically one eighth British.
Until now, France’s youngest ever leader was unaware of the real identity of his British ancestor, who was apparently not revealed by his grandmother Jacqueline.
Today, standing before vast crowds in Paris with Donald Trump for patriotic Bastille Day celebrations, he knows for the first time that his reputed love of Britain has its roots in his own family tree.
And his bloodline ties to Bristol could also harden his anti- Brexit position in the coming EU negotiations.
Our extensive archive research in France and Britain has established that, after the Armistice in 1918, George stayed on in France and married a local woman, Suzanne Julia Amelie Leblond.
Following the wedding in Abbeville in 1919, George worked for Suzanne’s parents at their hotel in Amiens, northern France.They then settled down and had three daughters.
Jacqueline was born in June 1922 in the city . George, a butcher before the war, then apparently left his young family in France.
He and Suzanne divorced in 1928, when Jacqueline was only six. All three daughters, Simone, Jacqueline and Odette were all under eight years.
George then moved to the suburbs of Paris, and reportedly worked for the American perfume and cosmetics brand Elizabeth Arden.
Unable to settle down, however, George returned to Britain, eventually settling in Forest Gate, East London.
According to the official certificates we have obtained, the shopkeeper had cut his ties with his French family, which is why President Macron knew little about his great-grandfather.
In London, George met widow Elizabeth Luckin. They married in December 1936 in the local register office. Both were 48. The wedding certificate states George was divorced.
George and Elizabeth ran a grocer’s in Forest Gate, now a house. Living with them were Elizabeth’s daughter, Vera, from her first marriage, Vera’s husband, Michael, and later their daughters Janet and Marilyn.
Janet Tinning, 71, told yesterday how she cherished George as her own grandad, calling him “Pop”.
Although she knew he had been previously married in France, she never knew he had children in France until we presented our dossier.
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Janet, from Sussex, said: “This has been a complete bolt from the blue. I had no idea Pop had children in France. It is obviously a shock for my sister Marilyn and I to be told he is Emmanuel Macron’s great-grandfather.
“My memories of him are all good; he was a very attentive, loving and gentle man. I have a fond memory of hiding under his long shop coat and him looking after me. So it is very strange to think that he left behind his daughters in France.
“He never spoke to us about the war. We knew nothing about where he fought, although we did keep a medal with the dates 1914 to 1916, which was given to all soldiers by the French government. One of his favourite songs, which I remember him singing, was Roses of Picardy, which the soldiers used to sing in the trenches.
“We all lived in that flat above the shop until I was a bit older, and although there wasn’t much space we were happy together.
“Pop died very suddenly when I was nine. I was very upset because we were very close.” George died at home in 1956, aged 68. He was buried in West Ham Cemetery. He did not make a will, but the High Court awarded the £1,737 and 15 shillings left as his estate to his widow Elizabeth.
President Macron and his First Lady, Brigitte – whom he met when he was 15 and she was his school teacher – have spoken in the past of how they enjoy visiting London and other parts of the UK.
Asked about the Robertson line of her husband’s family tree, Brigitte, 64, said: “We are sent many Macron genealogies and this is one we are very keen to find out more about.”
The politician, who formed his own party to stand in the presidential election, speaks perfect English.
He has said that growing up surrounded by the war cemeteries of the Somme strengthened his view that the European Union is a vital block against nationalism.
Being the descendant of a British veteran of the trenches should give him some added power in the tough talks to come.
Dynamic leader at the age of just 39
France’s new leader was born in Amiens in 1977. His mum was a doctor and his dad a professor at the local university.
As a boy, he was close to his maternal grandmother, Manette, but little is known about his relationship with George’s daughter Jacqueline, who died in 1998, when he was 21.
The former investment banker was Minister of Economy and Finance for Francois Hollande, but left to form his own political movement, En Marche. He easily saw off far-right Marine Le Pen in the presidential elections in May.
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