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Alongside Widow And Sons, Mistress and Daughter Attend Funeral

January 11, 1996 GMT

PARIS (AP) _ Little more than a year ago, Francois Mitterrand’s mistress was kept in the shadows, but on Thursday she stood with his widow at the former president’s funeral.

Danielle Mitterrand invited her husband’s mistress Anne Pingeot and their 21-year-old daughter Mazarine to the private ceremony n his southwestern hometown of Jarnac.

Mrs. Mitterrand, Ms. Pingeot and Mazarine stood side by side before the late president’s coffin.

Dressed in a black winter coat and a pale pink scarf and looking deeply pained but dignified, Mrs. Mitterrand was also accompanied by sons Gilbert and Jean-Christophe and her grandchildren.

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Mazarine stood beside the Mitterrand family, while her mother stood slightly behind them, her head covered by a thin black veil.

When a magazine published photos of Mazarine just over a year ago, breaking a French taboo against prying in politicians’ private lives, it was only revealing a widely-known secret: that the then-president had a daughter born to a mistress while he was married.

The magazine justified breaking the taboo by saying that Mazarine had become a quasi-public figure in recent months, taken on official trips and seen frequently in public with her father.

The French press of both left and right harshly condemned the magazine for the report at the time, calling it a sign of creeping ``Anglo-Saxon puritanism.″

But Mitterrand himself, with characteristic sang-froid, dismissed the hullabaloo in two words: ``Et alors?″ _ so what?

Mitterrand’s former culture minister and long-time friend Jack Lang told French radio Thursday that the late president would have been pleased to see the three women side by side.

``In a way it is just another Mitterrand miracle. If he was able to see this scene, he must have felt great happiness. It is a tribute to the quality of soul of those concerned,″ Lang said.