President Macron plans to award Legion d’honneur to London

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President Macron plans to award France’s highest honour – the Legion d’honneur – to London to mark how it helped during the Second World War

  • London acted as a base for exiled French leader Charles de Gaulle in WWII
  • De Gaulle made his famous Appeal speech on June 18, 1940 – calling on French people to rise up against the Germans
  • Has met with mixed reactions in France – with some angry that Macron is honouring ‘our hereditary enemies’

Emmanuel Macron has put his strained Brexit relationship with Boris Johnson to one side by deciding to award France‘s highest honour – the Legion d’honneur – to London.

President Macron plans to bestow the highest order of merit on the capital to commemorate how it acted as a base for exiled French leader Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War.

It was from London that de Gaulle made his famous Appeal speech, on June 18, 1940, and called on the French people to rise up against the Germans. 

Emmanuel Macron has put his strained Brexit talks with Boris Johnson to one side by deciding to award France's highest honour on London - the Legion d'honneur

Emmanuel Macron has put his strained Brexit talks with Boris Johnson to one side by deciding to award France’s highest honour on London – the Legion d’honneur

President Macron plans to bestow the highest order of merit on London to commemorate how it acted as a base for exiled French leader Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War

President Macron plans to bestow the highest order of merit on London to commemorate how it acted as a base for exiled French leader Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War

Non-French cities given the Legion d’honneur

1914: Liege, Belgium

1920: Belgrade, Serbia

1957: Luxembourg

1984: Volgograd, Russia

2004: Algiers 

2006: Brazzaville, Republic of Congo 

He famously made broadcasts on the BBC, to France, that year, urging his fellow Frenchmen to reject the armistice his country had signed with the Germans. 

De Gaulle had been undersecretary of state for defence and war when Marshal Philippe Petain took over the French government with the intention of signing the formal agreement to cease fighting with Hitler.

President Macron had initially intended to make his award announcement on June 18 itself, according to Le Figaro

And the news of his intentions has met with mixed reactions.

It was from London that de Gaulle made his famous Appeal speech, on June 18, 1940, and called on the French people to rise up against the Germans. (De Gaulle, above in Victoria, London)

It was from London that de Gaulle made his famous Appeal speech, on June 18, 1940, and called on the French people to rise up against the Germans. (De Gaulle, above in Victoria, London)

De Gaulle (pictured) had been undersecretary of state for defence and war when Marshal Philippe Petain took over the French government with the intention of signing the formal agreement to cease fighting with Hitler

De Gaulle (pictured) had been undersecretary of state for defence and war when Marshal Philippe Petain took over the French government with the intention of signing the formal agreement to cease fighting with Hitler

Some commenters on Le Figaro’s website were incensed that he will be honouring ‘our hereditary enemies’ – adding that ‘Napoleon Bonaparte must be turning in his grave’.

The Legion d’honneur was established in 1802 by Britain’s enemy Bonaparte to recognise military and civilian merit. 

Others, however, believe it could act as an olive branch post-Brexit. 

The Legion d’honneur has previously been awarded to cities as well as to individuals.

These include Algiers, in 2004, and to Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, in 2006. 

In each case, the cities were honoured for being Resistance bases during the Second World War.

The five-armed Maltese asterisk: What is the Legion d’honneur?

The Legion of Honor is the highest French decoration and one of the most famous in the world

The Legion of Honor is the highest French decoration and one of the most famous in the world

  • The Legion of Honor is the highest French decoration and one of the most famous in the world. For two centuries, it has been presented on behalf of the Head of State to reward the most deserving citizens in all fields of activity.
  • As an honour, the Legion of Honour does not include any actual material or financial benefit. However, it is an invaluable source of pride for the recipients and their families and an example of civic service made public.
  • Any French citizen with no criminal record, who has demonstrated outstanding merits in the service of the nation, in a military or a civilian capacity is eligible. Twenty years of activity at least are required to qualify for the Legion of Honor.
  • The Legion of Honor has 92,000 members. Every year, a maximum of 2,800 people can be inducted, in a military capacity or as civilians.
  • Some 320 foreigners can be awarded this honour every year but, unlike French nationals, they are not members of the Legion of Honor.
  • The Legion of Honor cannot be applied for.
  • French ministers are responsible for identifying potential honorees, relying on the societal network (parliamentarians, mayors, employers, leaders of trade unions or non-profit organisations, presidents of professional or sports federations…).
  • The colour of the ribbon is red. The badge is a five-armed Maltese asterisk hung on an oak and laurel wreath. On the obverse is the effigy of the Republic and on the reverse two tricolor flags surrounded by the motto ‘Honneur et Patrie’ (Honor and Fatherland).
  • The Legion of Honor is worn before any other French or foreign insignia, on the left-hand side. On informal attire, one wears lapel insignia (ribbon or rosette). Pendants and small-size decorations are preferred for official ceremonies. The military has its own rules for wearing insignia.  

Source: www.legiondhonneur.fr

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