Death of Elizabeth II: have we done too much in France?

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The queen is gone. After more than seven decades of reign, Elizabeth II died, at the age of 96, on Thursday September 2022. She died at her Scottish residence of Balmoral, as she had the opportunity to write Planet, and Britain continues to mourn today. The protocol, moreover, is particularly strict at this level. The London Bridge operation, on which the English authorities have been working for years, should make it possible to avoid any hitch relating to the latter.

Throughout Europe, if not the world, the death of the Queen of England caused a political shock wave. In France, a series of tributes is planned, some of which began the day of the announcement of his death. Emmanuel Macron and his teams have, unsurprisingly, issued an official press release. The president will also have to send a present, as required by tradition, to the newly crowned sovereign. More importantly, perhaps, he decided to require flags to be lowered to half-mast on all public buildings. A maneuver that is not without displeasing a certain number of elected officials…

The request, explain the mayors who refuse to lower the flag of their town hall, is fundamentally “incompatible” with the French Republic. The socialist mayor of Bourges (Centre-Val-de-Loire), Yann Galut, refuses to pay tribute to a monarch, as a republican, explains L’Express. “to pay a national tribute in all the town halls of France to a monarch, I who am a republican, I am in the misunderstanding. There must be a graduation in the tribute”, he thus declared, not without estimating that such a measure does not affect his territory and the inhabitants of his city enough to justify such a reaction.

What to think, therefore, that the government is perhaps doing a little too much? Not necessarily.

For Christophe Bouillaud, teacher-researcher in political science at the IEP of Grenoble (Sciences-Po), it would be a mistake to think that France is doing too much. “Queen Elizabeth II was the head of state of a friendly state, which participated alongside France in two world wars. Elizabeth II herself took part in the second, as a simple soldier. It is a logical and legitimate tribute given our shared history. In any case, it is less a tribute to the person of the Queen than to what she can represent: she illustrated the Franco-British friendship of the last 70 years, during which our two countries have not not confronted. It is important,” said the political scientist, who also does not hesitate to point out how much Britain has been able to play a decisive role in the recent history of our nation. “That’s what we honor,” he says.

And he insists, pointing to the political interests that Emmanuel Macron can find in such an approach, raising other more contemporary elements: “The President of the Republic has every interest in playing reconciliation with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom -United. On many points, the latter is the opposite of its positions and this is now an opportunity to restore good relations”.

But can we only understand the end of inadmissibility clearly opposed by certain city officials?

The refusal displayed by certain mayors, judge Christophe Bouillaud, sometimes reflects certain gaps in terms of geopolitical history. In some cases, it may even feed on a nationalist conception that it considers narrow. However, this plea of ​​inadmissibility is not (always) unfounded: it can also result from excessiveness… on the side of the media and more specifically of the continuous news channels.

“In my opinion, two main reasons explain such a reaction on the part of the city officials. On the one hand, it bears witness to a certain republican vision, deeply rooted in the 19th century. This leads them to think that honoring a monarch, or whatever he may represent, is always a bad thing. Moreover, there may also be a desire to take the opposite view of the audiovisual media, which do far too much and talk about the subject in particularly repetitive terms”, believes the academic.