Aznavour to have hommage national, Macron confirms

French Armenian singer Charles Aznavour
Charles Aznavour died aged 94 this week and will be honoured with an hommage national

President Emmanuel Macron is to speak at the hommage national for the late singer Charles Aznavour, to be held at Les Invalides this Friday (October 5), it has been confirmed.

Mr Aznavour, who sold 180 million records and was often dubbed “the French Sinatra”, died overnight on Sunday 30 September, aged 94.

His death was confirmed by autopsy as caused by an “acute pulmonary oedema”, the public prosecutor at Tarascon (Bouches-du-Rhône) said.

The hommage national for the singer was called for by MPs on Monday October 1, and was confirmed on Tuesday October 2 by the Elysée.

High-profile names have already paid public tribute to the star, including singer and actress Liza Minnelli, who called him a "mentor, friend and love"; and singer and performer Lenny Kravitz, who called Aznavour a real “gentleman”.

The holding of an hommage national (as opposed to an hommage populaire or otherwise) has not been without controversy.

On Monday, MPs issued a call for the honour, while minister for culture Françoise Nyssen said on news source FranceInfo: “France must honour him with a significant homage” without specifying further.

Yet, Mr Aznavour’s family were reportedly initially unsure of the decision.

The hommage national and hommage populaire are the two kinds of public funeral reserved for high-profile figures in France.

The “national” is usually reserved for respected military and political figures. In recent years, it has been given to former politician Simone Veil, and Arnaud Beltrame, the lieutenant-colonel gendarme who died at the hands of terrorists in March.

The less formal “populaire” is usually given to well-loved entertainment figures and similar.

Late singer Johnny Hallyday was given the honour in December last year, with hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Paris to pay tribute alongside a procession including 700 Harley-Davidson motorbikes.

Mr Aznavour, who was of Armenian origin and born as “Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian”, is also being mourned in Armenia.

Hundreds of members of the public assembled in the capital Yerevan on Monday to grieve their “son of the people”.

Similarly, Mr Aznavour was an honorary citizen of Montréal in French Canada. On Monday, the city’s mayor Valérie Plante said: “A man of immense talent left us today. He took us on a journey to the sound of his poetry and music. Rest in peace, Mr Aznavour.”

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