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Macron marks de Gaulle speech with visit to UK

By EARLE GALE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-19 09:27
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron walk together to view documents and artefacts related to former French President Charles de Gaulle during a visit at Downing Street in London, Britain, June 18, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The United Kingdom honored four French Resistance fighters on Thursday for battling fascism during World War II while the country also came to terms with the death of a legendary British wartime figure.

Vera Lynn, a morale-boosting singer who was known as the Forces' Sweetheart, died aged 103. She was known for singing We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover.

The BBC reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said her "charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours".

The four Resistance fighters-100-year-old Edgard Tupet-Thome, 99-year-olds Daniel Bouyjou-Cordier and Hubert Germain, and Pierre Simonet, who is 98, were awarded honorary members of the British Empire, or MBEs, for contributing to the allies' defeat of Nazi Germany.

The award, properly known as The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, was made on the 80th anniversary of a broadcast by exiled French general Charles de Gaulle to his countrymen in France after their nation was occupied by the Nazis.

De Gaulle said: "Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished."

Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, remembered the day with a visit to London as the guest of Johnson in his first trip outside France since the nation's lockdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus began in March.

The BBC reported that Johnson wanted to pay tribute to the "courage and sacrifice" of the four and of thousands like them.

While the honors were officially bestowed on Thursday, the medals will be physically handed to the men during upcoming ceremonies in France.

'Different struggles'

Johnson and Macron marked the milestone day by looking at letters and memorabilia from de Gaulle's exile in London, during which he worked closely with Winston Churchill.

"The struggles we face today are different to those we confronted together 80 years ago," Johnson said. "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."

The day featured a fly-past by the Red Arrows and their French counterparts, La Patrouille de France.

Reuters said Johnson and Macron also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, and the UK's future relationship with the European Union, which the UK's foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said should soon be formalized with a trade deal.

"We've agreed, on both sides, to energize and intensify the talks," Raab said on LBC Radio."We don't want to hang around. We're not going to wait for this to be dragged out into the autumn and the winter."

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