President Nicolas Sarkozy has honoured war veterans in London, 70 years after Charles de Gaulle’s rousing radio address from the city to Nazi-occupied France.
Emotions were running high as thoughts turned to June 18 1940 when the exiled military leader made his stirring call to resistance on the airwaves of the BBC.
British authorities have rolled out the red carpet for a huge French delegation, in town to honour the dominant figure in their country’s 20th century history.
“By giving General de Gaulle the right to speak, England paid France the finest tribute that it has ever received because that meant that, in the eyes of the English, France could only be seen in terms of the highest concept of honour,” Sarkozy said.
The radio appeal is seen as the founding act of French resistance during the Second World War. Few people heard it at the time and no original recording of the speech on that day survives.
It was the first of a series of radio messages from London sent by de Gaulle and other exiles, as, back
home, Marshall Petain did a deal with the Nazis.