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France: The "President's" Tricolor flag with a narrow white stripe

Last modified: 2021-01-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: president |
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The French flag with a narrow white stripe - Image by Jorge Candeias, 11 February 1998

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Origin of the flag

A French Tricolor flag with a narrow white stripe (photo) has been regularly shown behind President Jacques Chirac during official events. This flag seems to have been already used by François Mitterrand and is still used by Nicolas Sarkozy.
The flag is supplied by the Abeille Drapeaux< company. It was ordered for usage in front of television cameras only, and its design is intended to show all three colours in shots of the president, rather than showing just blue and white, while keeping the same general dimensions.

In April 2002, Franciae Vexillae [frv] suggested that: "These proportions were, apparently, calculated to look equal on a TV screen when the President is filmed in close shot."

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 June 2008

Use of the flag by François Hollande (2012-2017)

The flag is sill used by President François Hollande (photos).

Ivan Sache, 17 January 2014

Use of the flag by Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012)

On 3 March 2008, the flag placed behind Nicolas Sarkozy during his official visit in South Africa had a narrow white stripe. He used the same flag during visits in N'Djamena (Chad), Doha (Qatar), Constantine (Algeria), Beijing (China), Marrakech (Morocco) and Moscow (Russia). However, in Libreville (Gabon, 27 July 2007) and Dakar (Senegal, 26 July 2007), the white stripe has a normal size.
The narrow-striped flag was also widely used in speeches given in France.

Ivan Sache, 3 March 2008

Use of the flag by Jacques Chirac (1995-2007)

The Tricolor flag with the narrow stripe can be seen on a color picture published in the scientific magazine La Recherche, # 342 (May 2000). The picture was taken during the 10th World Conference on AIDS held in Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) in December 1997.

In February 1998, Jacques Chirac went to Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, short after the murder of Préfet Claude Érignac. He gave there an official speech, as usual standing by flags of the European Union and France. Nothing worth being noted, but... Jorge Candeias noticed that the French flag had a narrow white stripe.
On 26 March 1999, this very same flag was highlighted in a Letter to the Editor by Jean Nicolas, published in the daily newspaper Le Pays< (Belfort release), as follows:

I have been having doubts for years under the Presidency of François Mitterrand; his successor, Jacques Chirac, confirmed them. Indeed, our national emblem, born during the Revolution, was modified on the sly and nobody reacted. Our flag shall be made of three vertical blue, white and red stripes of equal size, which is no longer the case, at least for the flag of Élysée. The white stripe was reduced by half under the Presidency of François Mitterrand, and his successor seems to put up with this flag. How can a man, even if he is the President of the Republic, assume the right of changing our flag? I know well that white symbolizes royalty and that by "Republicanism" François Mitterrand wanted to make a lasting impression, but there are probably texts, regulations and maybe a Law defining precisely our emblem. I know well that today the "Prince" sometimes decides on his own, against the course of history. It is great time to come back to a more Republican conception of our emblem and one of our Deputees or our Senators should ask a question to the Government on this matter.

The flag has regularly been seen behind Jacques Chirac, always during official ceremonies. This is therefore a flag used indoor behind Jacques Chirac and not the flag hoisted over the Presidential Palace of Élysée as the text quoted above seems to indicate it.

A picture in the magazine Armées d'Aujourd'hui (Today's Armed Forces), sponsored by the Ministry of Defense, shows Jacques Chirac visiting on 25 November 2000 the peace-keeping troops stationed in Mitrovica (Kosovo).
The French Tricolor has the white stripe clearly narrower than the two others.

Ivan Sache, 5 September 2002

On 23 May 2002, Senator Jean-Louis Masson asked the following question (as a written question submitted to Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister of National Defense) : "Should the tricolore flag have its three stripes of equal dimensions?" Furthermore, he asked which proportions the stripes should have if not equal. The question was not answered. Masson asked it again on 11 July and got an answer on 22 August (Senate Official Gazette, 22 August 2002, p. 1864).
The answer doesn't give any clue on the weird flag, rather implying thatsuch a flag should not exist:

Ordered by the Law of 27 Pluviôse of the Year II, the national flag was made of three colours disposed in three equal stripes, placed vertically. Article 2 of the Constitution of 1946 quoted these dispositions stating that the "national emblem is the tricolore blue, white, red flag with three vertical stripes of equal dimensions. Article 2 of the Constitution of the 4 October 1958 also states that the tricolore blue, white, red flag is the national emblem of France, but does not give any precision about the width of each stripe; therefore, the former dispositions should be considered as unchanged.
It should be added, however, that the use is different in the Navy. Initially, the Law of 27 Pluviôse of the Year II stated that the proportions of the stripes of the jack and ordinary ensigns should follow the custom and that the masthead pennant should be made of three stripes "1/5th blue, 1/5th white, and 3/5th red". This unequal width of the stripes for the ensign and the masthead pennant was confirmed in the 19th century. A plate dated 1836 prescribes the following widths, which are still in force: for the ensign, blue 30%, white 33%, red 37%; for the pennant, blue 20%, white 20%, red 60%.

Olivier Touzeau, 29 September 2002

On 14 January 2003, the German Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder met the French Président de la République Jacques Chirac in Paris. They presented together their new project for Europe. Unsurprisingly, the French tricolor flag placed behind the speakers, along with the German national flag and the European Union flag, had its usual narrow white stripe.
The very same flag was seen once again behind Jacques Chirac during the Franco-British Summit hold in Le Touquet on 4 February 2003

Ivan Sache, 15 January 2003

A photo showing Jacques Chirac, published in the Economia (economy) supplement to the Público newspaper on 28 March 2005, shows an interesting coexistence of the two current "versions" of the French national flag: the flag representation in the podium is normal and the actual flag behind Chirac is the one with narrow middle stripe.

Jorge Candeias, 1 June 2005

Use of the flag by François Mitterrand (1981-1995)

The very same flag with the narrow white stripe appears in the TV program Mots croisés, showing images of President François Mitterrand interviewed by Jean-Pierre Elkabbach in 1994.

Marin Montagnon, 5 March 2005