French mayors refuse to lower flags for Queen

France should not “make preference” for a foreign monarch, one official declared

A number of French mayors have declared that they will not lower their flags to half-mast to mark the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, arguing that the concept of monarchy is at odds with France’s republican system.

Following the death of Elizabeth on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron was one of the first heads of state to pay respects to Britain’s longest-serving monarch. He called her the “Queen of hearts,” the Elysee Palace lowered its flags to half-mast the following day, and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne instructed town halls and other public buildings to follow suit for the Queen’s state funeral next Monday.

Among the country’s left-wing mayors, the order was not a popular one. “This request seems incredible to me,” said Yann Galut, the Socialist Party mayor of Bourges. “I respect the sorrow of our English friends but I will not put up the French flag [at half mast] over the municipal buildings of the city.”

“We are a republican country. Why should I pay tribute to a foreign monarch?” Galut later told France3 television.

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The Procession of Queen Elizabeth's coffin from the Palace of Holyrood house to St Giles Cathedral moves along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland, September 12, 2022
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“I will not apply the order,” Faches-Thumesnil Mayor Patrick Proisy, a member of the left-wing La France Insoumise party stated. “Is this done for all the heads of state who die? Does our Republic make the preference for a monarch, head of a Church?”

“How can you be logical by putting flags at half-mast on our schools where the motto is inscribed: ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity’?” Proisy continued. “No concept is further from ‘equality’ than that of the monarchy.”

Patrice Leclerc, a Communist Party mayor for the Parisian suburb of Gennevilliers, has also declared that he will ignore the directive, The Times reported. 

It is unclear whether the recalcitrant mayors will face any punishment for their disobedience. Philippe Laurent, deputy head of the French mayors’ association, has warned that they could face suspension. However, La France Insoumise MP Hadrien Clouet said that this is unlikely, as France has no laws stipulating the situations in which flags should be lowered, The Telegraph reported.

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