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France says ‘farewell’ to Chirac

The remains of former French president Jacques Chirac, who died last week, have received a solemn farewell from a military honor guard and a band playing Chopin’s Funeral March.

After two days of lying-in-state at the Hotel Des Invalides in central Paris, Mr. Chirac’s coffin, draped in the French flag, was on Monday carried out into the courtyard of the building by members of France’s elite Republican Guard.

A somber-looking President Emmanuel Macron stood over the casket and bowed his head, before it was loaded onto a hearse for the procession to Saint-Sulpice church, where nearly 2,000 family members and dignitaries were gathered for a funeral service.

Scores of current and former foreign leaders were due in the church to bid him farewell.

They included Russian President Vladimir Putin, former US President Bill Clinton, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Lebanese PM Saad al-Hariri and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker. Prince Edward, youngest son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, also attended.

The visiting leaders will form the core of dignitaries who will be hosted at a lunch by President Macron Later on Monday at the Elysee Palace.

Mr. Chirac was criticized by many in France for opposing the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. He remained immensely popular after he left office, despite a conviction for misusing public funds.

The former president, who died last week aged eighty-six, will be laid to rest at the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, in a plot next to his daughter Laurence, who died in 2016.

Over the weekend, thousands of people queued outside the Hotel des Invalides to pay tribute to Mr. Chirac. His coffin was on display, draped in the French flag and in front of a large photograph of himself, smiling.

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