TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, announced Wednesday that they are separating after 18 years of marriage.
The two said in statements posted on Instagram that they made the decision after “many meaningful and difficult conversations.” A statement from the prime minister’s office said they both have signed a legal separation agreement.
Trudeau, the 51-year-old scion of one of Canada’s most famous politicians, was sworn into office in 2015. Sophie Trudeau is a former model and TV host. The couple were married in 2005. Together, they brought star power to the prime minister’s office and appeared in the pages of Vogue magazine.
They have three children, 15-year-old Xavier, 14-year-old Ella-Grace and 9-year-old Hadrien.
“As always, we remain a close family with deep love and respect for each other and for everything we have built and will continue to build,” the two said on Instagram.
An official familiar with the matter said Trudeau will continue to live at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, where he has lived since 2015, and the children will primarily live there to maintain stability.
The official said she has moved to a separate Ottawa home, but will spend time at Rideau Cottage at times including when he is travelling. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
She has played a less visible role in recent years, rarely traveling with the prime minister on official trips. The two were seen together publicly at Canada Day events in Ottawa last month.
“They remain a close family, and Sophie and the prime minister are focused on raising their kids in a safe, loving and collaborative environment,” the statement from Trudeau’s office said. “The family will be together on vacation, beginning next week.”
His office requested respect for their privacy.
Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire met as children when she was a classmate of his youngest brother, Michel, and they reconnected as adults when they co-hosted a 2003 charity gala.
Trudeau is the second prime minister to announce a separation while in office.
His father, Pierre Trudeau, and mother, Margaret Trudeau, separated in 1979 and divorced in 1984 during the elder Trudeau’s final year in the prime minister’s office.
Margaret Trudeau wrote in her memoir that she had a romance with Senator Ted Kennedy. During a 1977 visit to Washington, D.C. with Pierre, she sat listening to her husband’s speech before Congress while feeling “torn between an intense need for him and a longing for Ted Kennedy.” Margaret wrote she became infatuated with Kennedy after meeting him a few years earlier. She told Kennedy that he “had not destroyed my marriage but that I had used him to help me destroy a marriage that was already over.”
Just weeks later Margaret, who had then-undiagnosed mental illness, left her husband to party with the Rolling Stones in Toronto. The marriage ended soon after that.
Justin, who was a child when his parents separated, wrote in his 2014 book “Common Ground” that public life took its toll. “I knew, even then, that the demands imposed by the life my parents were leading affected them far more than the ordinary stress of parenthood,” he wrote.
Justin Trudeau channeled the star power of his Liberal icon father when he first won office in 2015. Scandals, voter fatigue and economic inflation have taken a toll on his popularity after eight years in power.
Just a few months ago Trudeau posted a picture of himself holding hands with his wife on their anniversary and wrote, “Every mile of this journey together is an adventure. I love you, Soph. Happy anniversary!”
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, had thought that Trudeau would seriously consider stepping down sometime next year or early in 2025.
“The separation may have been partially driven by an ultimatum from Sophie that Trudeau not contest the next election,” Wiseman said. “I now think he is more likely to stick in the political arena.”