It's a change so subtle it went unnoticed for almost three years. But President Emmanuel Macron ordered a change to the colour of the French flag to find echoes of heroism in France's past.
Keen-eyed observers can see that the French red-white-and-blue tricolour flying above the Elysee Palace and also placed behind Macron at news conferences and speeches now has a darker navy blue rather than the previous bright blue.
The navy blue colour marks a return to tradition -- it had been then president Valery Giscard d'Estaing who switched the brighter blue in 1976 so that it matched the colour of the European flag, which displays yellow stars on a blue background.
The change had been made on the flags placed behind Macron at speeches from 2018 and then on those flying from the Elysee and other presidential buildings from 2020, a presidential official, who asked not to be named, told AFP on Monday.
The official said that the navy blue colour "evokes the memory" of the heroes who fought in the French Revolution, the trenches of World War I and in the Resistance during World War II.
The change has finally been noticed after being revealed in a book "Elysee Confidential" published this Autumn by journalists, Eliot Blondet and Paul Larrouturou.
They reported that the initiative came from the head of operations at the Elysee Arnaud Jolens, whom the journalists interviewed for their book. The change cost a symbolic 5,000 euros.
"Giscard changed this blue for aesthetic reasons during integration with Europe, but the flag that all the presidents took along with them ever since was not the real French flag," Jolens is quoted as saying.
The Elysee official also pointed out that the flag on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris had always had the navy blue.
France on January 1 takes on the rotating EU presidency under Macron, a pro-European, while he faces re-election battle in April.
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