Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated as the new president of France on Sunday, May 14.
The 39-year-old former investment banker is the youngest president in the country’s history, the youngest head of state since Napoleon, and the first French leader to be born after 1958 when the country’s Fifth Republic was put in place by President Charles de Gaulle.
At the Elysee Palace ceremony, Macron vowed to heal the divisions in French society that were deepened by the bitter campaign he fought against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Macron, a pro-EU centrist, also promised to restore France’s status in Europe and in the world, saying that he would give his countrymen back “the confidence to believe in themselves.”
Emmanuel Macron’s meteoric rise to power surprised many around the world. Before launching his presidential campaign, Macron served as Minister of Economy and Finance under former French President Francois Hollande. It wasn’t until 2016 that he founded En Marche!, his independent political party. At the time, he was still unknown to the wider public.
Still, he managed to beat Le Pen of the National Front in the second round of the presidential election on May 7. Macron, who won by a landslide, has since expressed his desire to shake up France’s political order, see the European Union “reformed and relaunched,” and breathe new life into the country’s economy. His victory has also been treated as a welcome respite in the rising tide of anti-globalization that carried Donald Trump into the White House and made Brexit possible.
At his inauguration, Emmanuel Macron was presented with a necklace once worn by Napoleon I, which would make him Grand Master of the National Order of the Legion d’Honneur. According to the BBC, in his inaugural speech, Macron spoke about healing the divisions in French society over such issues as immigration, economic policies, and France’s role in Europe and on the world stage.
“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome.”
“I know that the French expect much from me,” he said. “Nothing will make me stop defending the higher interests of France and from working to reconcile the French.”
“The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity.”
Reuters noted that for his inauguration, Emmanuel Macron seemed determined to come off as a modest leader. Aides reportedly stressed that the suit he wore for the occasion cost just 450 euros (about $500) and that the outfit worn by his wife, Brigitte Macron, was on loan from Louis Vuitton.
Instead of being driven in a civilian limousine to the Arc de Triomphe, he chose to ride in a military jeep, where he stood sans umbrella or coat in the rain. At the Arc de Triomphe, he lit a fame at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Macron also exuded youthful vigor and optimism for the event. During the proceedings, he raced up the Elysee stairs four at a time, something his predecessors might not have managed.
The transfer of power from former French President Francois Hollande to current President Emmanuel Macron was completed after the two had an hour-long meeting, during which the country’s nuclear missile launch codes were handed over. After the meeting, Macron escorted Hollande, his former boss, and mentor, down the red carpet and into his car.
On Monday, the day after his inauguration, Emmanuel Macron will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss France’s ties with Germany, an EU anchor nation. He will also announce his pick for prime minister. Macron is expected to name the rest of his government by midweek.
[Featured Image by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]