Dozens of world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, are expected in Paris on Monday to pay their final respects to France’s late President Jacques Chirac as the country holds a National Day of mourning for its popular former head of state.
Putin and other world leaders were to join President Emmanuel Macron for a church service in the French capital, a day after thousands of people queued to view the coffin.
Chirac’s death on Thursday aged 86 prompted a flood of tributes to a man whose high-profile political career spanned four decades capped by 12 years as president from 1995 to 2007.
But it also sparked questions about how much the consummate political operator actually achieved during a long spell in office and again threw the spotlight on a 2011 conviction for graft over his time as paris mayor.
Nevertheless, a poll in Le Journal Du Dimanche newspaper showed that the french consider him their best president of the modern era, alongside Charles De Gaulle, with his finest achievement seen as opposing the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
Thousands lined up sunday in a queue that wound around the invalides memorial complex, braving rainy weather and the prospect of an hours-long wait, to glimpse Chirac’s coffin draped in a french flag.
The national day of mourning Monday will see a minute of silence observed in all public institutions and schools.
The tributes will continue through Wednesday, when the France rugby team will don black armbands in a sign of mourning for Chirac during their world cup clash with the United States in the Japanese city of Fukuoka.