Four men who played significant roles in the French Resistance during World War Two will be honoured by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony in London on Thursday.
Macron, on his first trip outside France since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March, will also meet Johnson at 10 Downing Street to discuss their governments’ responses to the pandemic.
They are also likely to discuss Brexit, an issue that has been rising back up the political agenda in recent weeks as pressure increases on Britain and the European Union to agree and ratify a trade deal before a Dec. 31 deadline.
Macron’s visit marks the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s radio address to the French nation, shortly after the Nazi invasion of France, in which he laid the foundations of the Resistance.
The address was broadcast from London by the BBC on June 18, 1940, with permission from Winston Churchill.
To mark the occasion, Britain will bestow awards on four Resistance fighters: Edgard Tupet-Thome, 100; Daniel Cordier, 99; Hubert Germain, 99, and Pierre Simonet, 98. They will not be present, but will receive their awards in France later.
The four are the only surviving holders of the Croix de la Liberation (Cross of Liberation), an honour bestowed by De Gaulle on 1,038 men and women who distinguished themselves in the struggle to liberate France.
Johnson said the men symbolised “the enduring depth and strength” of Franco-British friendship – which has been tested by Brexit turbulence since Britain voted to quit the European Union in a 2016 referendum.
Macron will take part in a ceremonial event with Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and his wife Camilla. The French leader will also be treated to a joint flypast by the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force’s aerobatic team, and their French counterparts, the Patrouille de France.
A statue of Churchill that stands on Parliament Square was uncovered for Macron’s visit. The statue had been boarded up since last week to prevent it from being damaged by Black Lives Matter protesters.