The French Flag Changed Last Year. No One Said Anything

Macron started putting up flags at the presidential palace with a darker shade of blue
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2021 8:03 AM CST
The French Flag Changed Last Year and No One Said Anything
French President Emmanuel Macron pays tribute to flag-draped coffins during a ceremony in Suresnes, France, on Thursday.   (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool Photo via AP)

For more than 40 years, the tricolor French flag has sported a bright shade of blue to match that found on Europe's flag. If you've been wondering over the past year, however, why that blue seems darker of late, you don't need an eye exam—you've simply noticed that the French president made a subtle swap last summer, even though almost no one else seemed to have caught on. Local media reports that flags raised at the presidential palace starting in July 2020 have featured a darker navy blue vertical stripe, alongside its usual red and white bars, "without any accompanying fanfare," per the BBC.

It appears the reasons for the change are twofold. First, "there are aesthetic reasons," a Macron administration staffer says, per Sky News. "This blue is more elegant." But that same employee notes there's a "very political" angle as well: The shade was selected as a symbol of the French Revolution—because, as the broadcaster Europe 1 puts it, Macron felt the urge "to reconnect with the French flag of 1793."

The dark blue version has actually been in use on some French flags for years. The country's navy, for example, has long opted for the darker shade, as have many official buildings. But in 1976, under the rule of President Giscard d'Estaing, the lighter version debuted, mainly because some thought the French flag clashed with Europe's when they flew next to each other—which is why some balked at Macron's decision to reintroduce the darker version at the Elysee Palace, the building where the National Assembly meets, and other official government offices, per the Local.

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But others welcomed the retro look, even though no official announcement was made about the shift, and Macron didn't order other institutions to start flying the "new" blue. While there may still be some disagreement among the ranks about which flag is better, everyone is stressing one thing: The darker blue is not meant to be a diss against the European Union. (More Emmanuel Macron stories.)

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