Name game spells double trouble for Chirac family

President Jacques Chirac's first grandchild, Martin Rey-Chirac, is all of three weeks old. Already, he is making political waves. The problem is his name: not the Martin part, which conforms by its presence in the calendar of saints to everything required of a French first name, but the double-barrelled surname.

French parents are not allowed to register their children in both their surnames. They have to choose one of them, which is inscribed on the birth certificate and becomes the child's name in law. The child may add a name when he reaches the age of majority, but it will always be an addition "by custom and usage", never recognised as part of the legal name.

So was an exception made for petit Martin Rey-Chirac, a French MP wanted to know, and he put down a written question to that effect in parliament. "Is this," asked Jean-Louis Masson, the honourable member for Moselle, only half tongue-in-cheek, "a favour exclusive to descendants of French presidents while in power, or is it a change in the law from which every citizen will be able to benefit from now on?"

Mr Masson's interest in the matter stemmed from the fact that he has spent more than a decade trying to change the law to allow a child to take both its parents' names. (He is the father of three daughters and no sons.) Suddenly, the law seemed to have been changed de facto by the president.

Claudia Chirac, Martin's mother, is the president's younger daughter and his trusted public relations adviser. The child's father - whose identity was disclosed to the French public only a couple of months before the birth - is Thierry Rey, who won a judo gold medal for France at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and is now a television presenter.

Although the French media referred to Claudia Chirac through her pregnancy as a "thoroughly modern woman" who decided to have a child "all by herself", Mr Rey was frequently photographed with Claude and is named as the father on the birth certificate.

The answer to Mr Masson's question has now been provided. Martin, it emerges, was not made an exception after all; he was registered only under his mother's name. Until he is 18, he is for legal purposes plain Martin Chirac.

The misapprehension, it is said, derived from a French media report which said he had been "registered" with the double-barrelled name. If it had simply said that he would be "known as" Martin Rey-Chirac, not an eyebrow would have been raised. Still, at least Mr Masson may benefit from all the fuss: next time he tries to have the law amended, he may get a more sympathetic reception than hitherto.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory