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11.11.2020 Europe

Macron honours unknown soldier in sombre ceremony under Covid lockdown

LISTEN NOV 11, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to fallen French soldiers in a subdued ceremony in Paris today, one hundred years after the creation of the tomb of the unknown soldier.

At the top of a near-deserted Champs Elysées, Macron laid a large red, white and blue wreath in front of the flame dedicated to the unknown soldier, beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

The tomb holds the body of an unidentified French World War 1 soldier who represents all soldiers who have died for the country throughout history.

President Macron wore a black face mask. The mood was especially sombre, with only a small number of key personalities in attendance because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The names of the soldiers who died for France more recently were read out and a bugler and drummers played The Last Post before a group of singers, sang an unaccompanied version of the Marseillaise, France's national anthem.

Blue flower
Macron then greeted the president of the French Senate, Gérard Larcher, the leader of the Assemblée Nationale Richard Ferrand, and former French Presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. Macron also spoke to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. 

President Macron wore a blue cornflower on his lapel. He is said to be keen to foster a tradition in France, like the wearing of poppies in the UK.

Later today, Macron will give a speech at a special ceremony in the Panthéon, as the body of Maurice Genevoix, whose writings described the bleak horror of the first world war, is moved there to rest among many of France's greatest historical figures.

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