Europe

Jacques Chirac: France pays final respects to former president

Mourners attend funeral service of late French president Jacques Chirac on 30 September 2019. Image copyright AFP

Former US President Bill Clinton and Russia's Vladimir Putin are among dozens of past and present world leaders attending a memorial service for France's Jacques Chirac.

A choir sang as the late president's former security guards carried his coffin, which was draped in the tricolore flag, into Saint-Sulpice church in Paris.

Chirac died last week at the age of 86.

He served two terms as president and twice as prime minister.

Monday was declared a day of national mourning.

Among the mourners at Monday's service were all three living former presidents of France - Giscard d'Estaing, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. Also present was President Emmanuel Macron, who last week hailed Chirac as a "great Frenchman".

The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, attended the service on behalf of the Britain's royal family. Queen Elizabeth also shared her "condolences" in a statement, saying that Chirac's death "will be felt throughout France."

But the far-right leader Marine Le Pen - whose party won the biggest share of votes in France at the last European elections - was a notable absence from the funeral after the Chirac family made it clear she was not welcome.

During his first presidential term (1995-2002), Jacques Chirac took France into the single European currency. At the start of his second term (2002-2007), he spearheaded international opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

US former President Bill Clinton is greeted by France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe as he arrives to attend a church service for former French President Jacques Chirac on 30 September 2019. Image copyright Corbis
Image caption Former US President Bill Clinton (L) was a political contemporary of Chirac

His later years were blighted by corruption scandals, including a conviction related to his time as mayor of Paris and allegations he was given briefcases of cash by African leaders - which he strenuously denied.

At the weekend, thousands of people queued in Paris to see the coffin of the late president as it lay in state.

The queue of well-wishers stretched around the Hôtel des Invalides.

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Media captionSome of the key moments in Jacques Chirac's career
People wait to attend a public ceremony in homage to former French President Jacques Chirac on 29 September 2019. Image copyright AFP
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Visitors wait to view the coffin of former French President Jacques Chirac on 29 September 2019. Image copyright EPA
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Many were seen with umbrellas, undeterred by the weather.

People queue to say a final farewell to former French President Jacques Chirac on 29 September 2019. Image copyright AFP
Visitors wait to view the coffin of former French President Jacques Chirac as it lies in state in the Invalides on 29 September 2019. Image copyright EPA

After lying in state in Les Invalides, former President Jacques Chirac's body was transferred to Saint-Sulpice for the final memorial service.

The coffin of former French President Jacques Chirac lies in state in front of a photograph of the late statesman, in the Invalides 29 September 2019. Image copyright EPA

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