ANG/Fame pictures
Peter Mikelbank
May 08, 2008 09:00 AM

France’s First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy came away from her state visit to Great Britain with rave reviews – and a near-perfect imitation of Queen Elizabeth II, whom she considers “a truly gracious person.”

Describing the demands of her visit in March as one of “terrible fear and incredible adventure,” the first lady (who wed Sarkozy in February) tells Paris Match that the experience was “a rite of passage. Something from another planet.”

And despite having had a crash course from the élysée Palace on the rigorous protocol, as well as personal advice from the British Ambassador’s wife, “Never in my life did I imagine I’d meet the Queen,” says the former supermodel, 40, who previously was schooled on foreign-state occasions for a tour of South Africa”].

“My God! Can you imagine?” says Bruni-Sarkozy, who was born in Italy. “You have to take into account trying not to disappoint French women – the most elegant in the world. It’s not so easy with such a demanding country!”

While her understated wardrobe and faultless comportment charmed the British, she compliments the Duke of Edinburgh for making it easy to follow protocol. Equally impressive about the royals, she says, is that she witnessed how they “were a real family.

‘Your Bathroom’

“The Queen is a truly gracious person, who led us personally around our apartments at Windsor Castle. I brought with me for this trip exceptionally my makeup artist and my hairdresser. Both nearly fainted seeing the Queen so close to up.”

Mimicking Her Majesty, Bruni-Sarkozy says – in English – “Here’s your bathroom” in what is described as a “perfect royal British accent.”

As for her new life in a different kind of spotlight, Bruni-Sarkozy says, “Politics is a difficult trade. It’s like you’ve just arrived in an orchestra, someone hands you a flute and the next day, they demand you start playing Stravinsky.”

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