Macron reverts French flag to navy blue from lighter EU shade

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French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Oct. 29, 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Oct. 29, 2021.   -  Copyright  Stephane de Sakutin, Pool Photo via AP

The French presidency has reverted the blue of the country's tricolour flag back to the pre-1976 navy tone in a nod to the Revolution.

The change of blue of the flags adorning the Elysée Palace was first made a year ago but went largely unnoticed.

Previously, the shade was lighter to match the blue of the European Union flag as decided by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 1976.

"The President of the Republic (Emmanuel Macron) has chosen for the tricolour flags that adorn the Élysée Palace the navy blue that evokes the imagination of the Volunteers of Year II, the Poilus of 1914 and the Compagnons de la Libération of Free France," the Presidency said.

"It is also the blue of the flag that has always flown under the Arc de Triomphe every (Armistice Day) 11 November," it added.

The Volunteers of Year II refer to the men who voluntarily enrolled in the army in 1791 as the country was still reeling from the Revolution to defend the territory from a Prussia-led coalition.

The Elysée's director of operations, Arnaud Jolens, is at the origin of the initiative. In the "Elysée Confidentiel" book released in mid-September by journalists Eliot Blondet et Paul Larrouturou, he confided that he visited Macron in his office on the eve of France's national Day in July 2020, brandishing two flags with the different shades of blue.

"'By the way, I'm changing the flags on all the buildings of the presidency tomorrow.' The head of state smiles. 'Giscard had changed this blue for aesthetic reasons during the rapprochement with Europe, but the flag that all the presidents have been dragging around since then was not the real French flag'," the book recounts the conversation between Jolens and Macron as going.

The cost of this symbolic operation was €5,000, according to Jolens.

The navy blue flag had reappeared at the Elysee before this date, however, having appeared being the President's speeches since his December 31, 2018, televised address.

Macron has also in 2018 added a Lorraine cross to the logo of the presidency, an assumed reference to General Charles de Gaulle, whose 50th death anniversary and 80th anniversary of the June 18 Appeal were commemorated in 2020.