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Confirmed: Simone Veil will enter Panthéon this year

The late Simone Veil, former lawyer and politician, who died in June 2017 aged 89, is to enter the Panthéon mausoleum in Paris in June this year, President Macron has confirmed.

Veil was seen as an iconic figure in France, serving not only as minister for health under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and as 12th president of the European Parliament, but also known for her key role in legalising abortion in France in 1975, and facilitating access to oral contraceptives.

She was also known in later years for her work in remembering the Holocaust, and, as an Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen concentration camp survivor herself, became the first ever president of the Shoah Memory Foundation from 2000 to 2007. She later became honorary president.

Veil was also known for her work in helping to introduce a ban on smoking in public places, and in improving access to healthcare in rural and underserved areas across the country.

Now, after first announcing in July last year initial plans to bury Veil in the Panthéon - and after several public petitions in July calling for her "panthéonisation" - president Macron has confirmed that Veil's remains will enter the mausoleum on July 1 2018, with “the agreement of her family”.

She will “rest in peace with her husband” Antoine Veil - who died in 2013, and will enter around one year after her death, and her funeral at Les Invalides.

The couple were married for 66 years, and met while studying in Paris. They married in October 1946, just over a year after Veil was liberated - along with the other camp survivors - from Bergen-Belsen, where her mother had died of typhus just days before.

The Panthéon is a secular mausoleum, and houses the remains of iconic, national figures from French politics, culture, society, and history. Other high-profile figures remembered and/or buried there include Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Pierre and Marie Curie, and Alexandre Dumas.

Veil will follow Germaine Tillion, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Marie Curie, and Sophie Berthelot to become only the fifth woman ever to be honoured at the Panthéon.

It will be the first time that a man has been buried there simply in his capacity as husband.

In his statement from the Elysée, Macron reiterated Veil’s place in the history of the Holocaust memorial movement, and her role in fighting for women’s rights. Her placement in the Pantheon bears witness to the “immense thankfulness of the French people towards one of its most-loved children”, he said.

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