with the feathers of presidents, in the factory of national tributes

INVESTIGATION – Erasures, struggles for influence and small annoyances… The writing of a speech of national homage is a collective work of which the pens of the Élysée are the actors and discreet witnesses.

“Despite the tears, this generation has today become the face of France.” His speech finished, François Hollande returns to his chair in the solemn silence of the main courtyard of the Invalides. Then rise the moved voices of Yaël Naïm, Nolwen Leroy And Camélia Jordanawho interpret When we only have love, the famous song by Jacques Brel. Two weeks after the attacks of November 13, the spirit of Bataclan blew over the ceremony of November 27, 2015, in tribute to the victims.

This February 7, 2024, it is Emmanuel Macron’s turn to chair the national tribute to the memory of the 41 French people murdered in Israel by Hamas terrorists. Four months to the day after the attack, the President of the Republic chose to honor the memory of the victims not in the Court of Honor, but on the Esplanade des Invalides, in front of the monument for the victims of terrorism. The future will tell if Emmanuel Macron’s words will be remembered.

Because national tributes rarely mark History. But each of these speeches has its own little story, of which the “feathers” of the Élysée are both the shadow actors and the discreet witnesses. This story is first and foremost that of a ceremonial long reserved for soldiers who died for France. “Official distinction of the French Republic, it can only be decided by the head of state himself, precise the government website. He delivers a eulogy.”


A practice which took a new turn under the Hollande five-year term, with the multiplication of national tributes for “civilian” personalities. Of the 21 ceremonies decided by the socialist president…

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