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Blue shade of French flag changed a year ago but no one noticed

President Macron changed the shade of blue in order to invoke the French Revolution

President Macron darkened the shade of blue on the French flag in July last year but no one had noticed much until it was reported in the French press this weekend.

The head of state made the decision to change the marian blue shade back to the original navy blue which was chosen by the Convention nationale, a parliament of the French Revolution, in 1794. 

In 1976 the then-president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing had lightened the blue as he wanted it to be closer to the blue of the flag of the European Union, next to which the French flag is often displayed.

Both versions were therefore used across the country, with the French navy notably sticking to the original, darker blue.

The Elysée ‘swears [Mr Macron’s decision] is not an anti-European gesture’, according to Europe1 radio who revealed the information. Instead, Mr Macron is said to have made the change in order to revive the symbol of the French Revolution.

There was reportedly an internal debate between those in the Elysée who consider the change in colour futile and those who are nostalgic for the flag of their childhood pre-1976.

Director of Operations Arnaud Jolens and Memory Advisor Bruno Roger-Petit both pushed for the change, reported Europe1.

It is now the navy blue which is displayed on all buildings linked to the Elysée, including on the Ministry of the Interior at Place Beauvau and on the National Assembly. 

There has been zero official communication on the change - there have been no public announcements and no instructions for institutions to change their flags.

The three colours of the French flag were first brought together at the beginning of the French Revolution. Before the taking of Bastille, the Parisian militia wore two-colour cockades - red and blue, the ancient colours of Paris.

However, the commander of the new National Guard, Marquis de Lafayette, had the idea of adding the royal white - the colour of the king - to nationalise the cockade and flatter Louis XVI.

The tricolour was established as the national flag in 1794, with painter Jacques-Louis David suggesting that the blue be closest to the flagstaff.

However, the new flag temporarily lost the blue and red with the return of the monarchy in the early 19th century. Its return was accepted by King Louis-Philippe in 1830, the year he came to power.

The tricolour’s status as the flag of France was jeopardised on more occasions after this but it came to be generally accepted under the Third Republic (1870 - 1940). 

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