September 23, 2020

Winston Churchill statue boarding removed for Macron's visit to London

June 17, 2020

Protective boarding around the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in central London has been removed for the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The monument in Parliament Square was boarded up, along with several others, after it was sprayed with graffiti during a Black Lives Matter protest prompted by the death of George Floyd in the US.

Mr Macron is due to visit London on Thursday where he will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson and attend an event with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: "The covering around the Winston Churchill statue will be removed for the visit of President Macron to London."

The Churchill statue was boarded up on 12 June ahead of a planned Black Lives Matter protest after demonstrators had previously daubed "was a racist" on the monument.

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Lauded for his leadership as Britain's wartime prime minister and opposition to Hitler's Nazi regime, Sir Winston also espoused racist views of Indians, who he said he "hated" and considered to be "a beastly people with a beastly religion".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "absurd and shameful" that the statue was at risk of attack, saying Sir Winston remained a hero for saving the country from "fascist and racist tyranny".

Days after the monument was boarded up, there were violent scenes in London and more than 100 arrests as police struggled to keep anti-racism protesters and rival demonstrators apart.

As Black Lives Matter supporters gathered in Hyde Park, a crowd of people - some of them far-right activists - gathered in Parliament Square, where they were claiming to protect statues.

On Thursday, Mr Macron will meet Charles and Camilla at Clarence House in London to celebrate the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle's appeal to the French population to resist the German occupation of France during the Second World War.

He is also reportedly visiting the capital to honour the city and the country as a whole by awarding London France's highest decoration - Legion d'Honneur.

Mr Macron's visit comes just before the 1 July deadline to extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of this year.

A spokesman for the PM said the French president would not be subject to the UK's 14-day quarantine rules.

Mr Macron falls within the exempted category of "representatives of a foreign country or territory travelling to undertake business in the UK", he added.

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