Emmanuel Macron’s office has darkened the blue of the French flags flying around the Elysee Palace to make the tricolor more like the one it existed after the French Revolution.
Presidential advisers have said the change occurred in July last year, but no one seems to have noticed until now.
The French navy has kept navy blue since the 18th century, when the flag became a symbol of the revolution. The French state introduced a lighter shade of blue to its flags in the 1970s.
Europe 1 Radio, which reported the news last Monday, said that Macron’s chief operating officer Arnaud Jolens, adviser Bruno Roger-Petit and naval officers who were at the time part of the Elysee’s military chief of staff team they encouraged the decision.
According to members of the Government, navy blue is considered “more elegant”, but it is also considered that it “reconnected with a symbol of the French Revolution”. Others have theories about a possible break with the EU, claiming that the darker blue, now notably different from the blue of the European Union flag, reflects a rift between France and Europe.
The EU flag uses Marian blue, the shade declared as the official color of the Virgin Mary in the 5th century. The French flag – which is usually flown or placed next to it – was changed to coincide with it in the 1970s, when the late Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, a staunch Europhile, was at the Elysee and when it was decided to use a lighter shade on the French flag for aesthetic reasons to avoid the clash of blues.
Advisers to the Presidency deny that the change involves “opposition to the blue of the European flag.” “There is no ‘blue war’, it is nonsense,” they added.
Europe 1 political correspondent Louis de Raguenel, has reported that the Elysee Palace is divided between those who consider the new flag ugly and say it clashes with the European one, and others who like to see the flag of their childhood before the Giscard years. “This color change has not been communicated and no instructions have been given to change or not all official flags,” wrote De Raguenel.
“The environment of Emmanuel Macron does not want to give the image of a president who touches the deepest symbols of the country, although deep down, as you can imagine, there is a meaning behind all this,” says the journalist.
Translated by Javier Biosca