Emmanuel Macron: French flag 'must be defended'
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The French President has raised eyebrows after it emerged last week that his administration had altered France’s Tricolore to look how it did during the French Revolution. Mr Macron’s office is reported to have changed the flag last July so that it features a darker navy-blue stripe rather than the previous light blue colour. The Elysee Palace has been using the updated flag for more than a year and did not formally announce the change.
However, Mr Macron has drawn the ire of critics, some of whom interpreted the change as a slight at the EU.
Twitter user Wiblicks demanded Mr Macron’s administration revert to the flag’s previous incarnation to “show unity to the EU”.
They said: “This is an utter disgrace to all with a connection to France and the European Parliament by Emmanuel Macron.”
Another commenter, Patrick G, suggested that France “incorporate the EU flag into the French flag’s canton”.
They said: “Disappointed that the EU didn’t intervene and tell the French (and others) that if a national flag has blue on it, it should be the same shade as the EU’s flag (better for when they are placed side-by-side).”
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The new flags have quietly been hoisted on the French National Assembly, the Ministry of the Interior and other Government buildings, as well as being placed behind Mr Macron at press conferences.
Europe 1 radio reported that Mr Macron had opted for the change on the advice of his director of operations, Arnaud Jolens, and another adviser, Bruno Roger-Petit.
French officials told the broadcaster that the change had been made because the new shade of blue is “more elegant”.
However, they also said it is a “very political” move to “reconnect with a symbol of the French Revolution”.
The French Navy has always used the French flag featuring the darker blue, although there is no official requirement for institutions to do so.
France’s flag was last changed in 1976 by then-President Valery Giscard-d’Estaing who chose a lighter blue.
His intention had been for France to match the “marian” blue of the 12-star flag used by the EU.
It has been interpreted that Mr Macron, who is set to face re-election in the French presidential vote in April, could be sending a message to voters with the flag change.
It has been claimed that the French President may be appealing to the patriotism of the electorate in a bid to steal votes from his right-ring opponent Marine Le Pen, and Eric Zemmour, who is yet to announce his candidacy but is widely expected to run.
The flag change also comes as France prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
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Mr Macron has been a staunch advocate of the EU but has signalled his wishes to reform and streamline the 27-nation bloc.
Europe 1’s political correspondent, Louis de Raguenel, claimed that aides of Mr Macron had explained that the flag change was not an example of the President trying to send a message to the EU.
He wrote: “A few weeks before the French presidency of the European Union, everyone swears that this is not an anti-European gesture.”
There was reportedly disagreement within Mr Macron’s administration about the look of the new flag.
Mr De Raguenel added: “The Elysee Palace has experienced an internal debate, between those who consider that this new flag is ugly and others, attached to returning to the flag of their childhood before the Giscard years.”
The reporter also claimed that “no communication was made” about the change of colour.
He added: “Emmanuel Macron’s entourage has no desire to give the image of a president who touches the deepest symbols of the country, even if deep down, as you might imagine, there is a meaning behind it all.”
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