France pays homage to its ‘most admired woman’ Simone Veil
France's women's rights champion and Auschwitz survivor Simone Veil, who died last week, will be honoured in a national ceremony at the Invalides in Paris on Wednesday.
Published: 5 July 2017 12:05 CEST
France paid homage to one of its greatest female figures on Wednesday at a national ceremony at the famous Invalides monument in the heart of Paris.
Dignitaries and politicians from France and around Europe gathered to pay their respects to Veil, who in the words of President Emmanuel Macron led “all the struggles of the last century – for women, Europe, justice and human dignity.”
(Veil's coffin is carried into the Invalides)
The coffin of the beloved politician, who died aged 89 on June 30th, arrived at the Hotel des Invalides – which houses Napoleon's tomb – draped in the French flag and carried by Republican guards to the sound of Chopin's Funeral March.
Expressing his condolences on Twitter on June 30th, the president had tweeted: “May her example inspire our fellow citizens, as the best of what France can achieve.”
Ex-French presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande will be at the event, as will Jacques Chirac's wife Bernadette, who will be representing her husband. Nearly all of France's recent prime ministers are expected to be there, as are members of the Foundation for the memory of Shoah, of which Veil was the first president.
Across France the European flag will be lowered to half-mast on public buildings while the French flags will be covered in black.
Since Veil's death, more than 120,000 people signed two French petitions calling for her to be buried in the Pantheon.
It was initially thought Veil would be buried at Montparnasse alongside her husband but Macron announced both would be laid to rest in the Pantheon.
Born Simone Jacob in the Mediterranean city of Nice, Veil was deported to the Nazi death camp at the age of 17 with her entire family.
She is best known for leading the successful campaign to legalize abortion in France. This was back in 1975, when she was France's minister of health (incidentally, she was France's first ever female minister too).