Red Arrows soar over Buckingham Palace as Macron visits London

18 June 2020, 17:05 | Updated: 18 June 2020, 20:30

Flypast Commemorates Appeal of The 18th June Speech By Charles De Gaulle
Flypast Commemorates Appeal of The 18th June Speech By Charles De Gaulle. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

The Red Arrows have flown over Buckingham Palace in a dazzling display to mark the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's "L'Appel".

Mr Macron was received by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, before a ceremonial event, and then bilateral talks in Number 10.

He bestowed France's highest order of merit, the Legion d'Honneur, on London.

The French president is visiting London to commemorate the 80th De Gaulle's Appel - a BBC broadcast to occupied France following the Nazi invasion in 1940.

In Downing Street, Mr Johnson and Mr Macron will view artefacts - including letters - documenting General de Gaulle's time in London and his partnership with Sir Winston Churchill.

The statue of Britain's wartime leader in Parliament Square was uncovered on Wednesday evening
The statue of Britain's wartime leader in Parliament Square was uncovered on Wednesday evening. Picture: PA
The French president is visiting London to commemorate the 80th De Gaulle's Appeal
The French president is visiting London to commemorate the 80th De Gaulle's Appeal. Picture: PA
The Red Arrows fly over Downing Street as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with French President Emmanuel Macron
The Red Arrows fly over Downing Street as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with French President Emmanuel Macron. Picture: Getty

The statue of Britain's wartime leader in Parliament Square was uncovered on Wednesday evening ahead of the French president's arrival, after it was boarded up for fear of attack by protesters.

The two leaders also watched a flypast of the Red Arrows and their French equivalent, La Patrouille de France, to mark the anniversary of the Appel.

Mr Johnson said: "Eighty years ago, Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the French Resistance, arrived in London knowing that the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy that Britain and France shared were under threat.

The Red Arrows and their French equivalent, La Patrouille de France, flying over Horse Guards Parade in London
The Red Arrows and their French equivalent, La Patrouille de France, flying over Horse Guards Parade in London. Picture: PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron walk together at Horse Guards Parade to watch the display
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron walk together at Horse Guards Parade to watch the display. Picture: PA

"He pledged that we would stand together to defend those values and protect our citizens from those bent on destroying us.

"The four men we are honouring today - Pierre, Edgard, Daniel and Hubert - symbolise the enduring depth and strength of the friendship between our two countries.

"They are heroes, and I am immensely proud that, as a nation, we are paying tribute to their courage and sacrifice in defending us and the whole world from fascism.

"The struggles we face today are different to those we confronted together 80 years ago. But I have no doubt that - working side by side - the UK and France will continue to rise to every new challenge and seize every opportunity that lies ahead."

Charles De Gaulle (R) broadcast the 'L'Appel' on the BBC to Nazi occupied France
Charles De Gaulle (R) broadcast the 'L'Appel' on the BBC to Nazi occupied France. Picture: Getty

Who was Charles de Gaulle and what was 'L'Appel'?

De Gaulle was the wartime leader of the Free French and 18th President of France.

He was an officer in the First World War and led a counterattack after the Germans invaded France in the Second World War.

Following France's defeat in June 1940, the government were forced to accept an armistice deal with Germany.

De Gaulle refused to accept it, escaped to England and pleaded with the French people to resist the Nazi occupation and continue the appeal on June 18, 1940.

His "L'Appel" - meaning "appeal" - is also considered to be the origin of the French Resistance.

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