PARIS, France (CNN) -- The wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken for the first time about the reasons her divorce in an interview with a French newspaper.
The announcement ended weeks of speculation over their marriage.
Cecilia Sarkozy told L'Est Republicain on Friday that the couple's relationship had not been able to survive the glare of the media spotlight following a highly public separation in 2005.
The Sarkozys announced on Thursday they were divorcing by mutual consent after 11 years of marriage.
A former model, Cecilia Sarkozy said that she was not comfortable with her position as first lady.
"I am someone who likes the shadows, serenity, tranquility. I had a husband who was a public man, I always knew that, I accompanied him for 20 years. But me, I think that is not my place. It is no longer my place," she was quoted as saying.
The couple has been dogged by persistent rumors of infidelities, which Cecilia Sarkozy seemed to confirm in her newspaper interview.
Explaining the events that led to the couple separating in 2005, she said: "Two years ago an event happened of which unfortunately the whole of France is aware. In 2005, I met someone, I fell in love and I left."
The French president, in Portugal for an EU summit, has declined to comment on his marriage breakdown. His divorce comes as he deals with crippling public sector strikes at home that have shut down much of France's transit system.
Cecilia Sarkozy was a smiling figure at her husband's inauguration in May as she stood with the couple's five children. But she said recently she didn't see herself as having any role at all as the president's wife.
For the French public, news of the divorce is unlikely to come as a shock. French presidents and their spouses have a long tradition of leading separate lives, even while carrying on the functions of state.
Former President Francois Mitterrand not only lived apart from his wife, Danielle, but he maintained a secret second family that turned up in public only at his funeral.
Jacques Chirac, who stepped down when Sarkozy was elected this year, hinted at a number of affairs. He and his wife lived largely separate lives, appearing together only at presidential functions.
Nicolas Sarkozy said at the start of his term that he had no worries as president, except for his wife. E-mail to a friend