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Wednesday, November 11, 1998 Published at 14:35 GMT


Churchill returns to Paris

A workman puts the finishing touches to the statue

The Queen and President Chirac unveil the statue of Churchill
Queen Elizabeth II joined France's President Jacques Chirac to unveil a statue of her first Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, who led Britain during World War II.

The ceremony was held on the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I.

The £250,000 statue - which was paid for by donations by the French public - has been erected on the Avenue Winston Churchill.

[ image: The Queen unveils the statue of Sir Winston]
The Queen unveils the statue of Sir Winston
It is modelled on a photograph of Churchill marching with France's wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle down the nearby Champs Elysees on 11 November, 1944.

The Queen, speaking in French, said Churchill had always loved France but conceded "relations between Churchill and de Gaulle were not always very easy. But they always knew that Great Britain and France had a lot in common."

The Queen: "This is a fitting day to honour his memory"
She said: "I am confident that Winston Churchill, my first Prime Minister, who guided me with such wisdom and humour through the earliest years of my reign, would have commended to me this special recognition of the 80th anniversary of the Armistice."

The 10ft high (3.2m) statue by French sculptor Jean Cardot is made of bronze and weighs two-and-a-half tonnes.

Churchill is now one of the few foreigners to have his likeness on display in Paris.

Money has been found

Some British newspapers have claimed the French have been less than enthusiastic in funding the statue.

Sir Winston Churchill exhorting the French (in French) during the war
They point out that Londoners erected a statue of de Gaulle shortly after the war and raised the money within months.

But Brian Reeve, the expatriate businessman who dreamed up the idea, told the BBC's Paris Correspondent, Kevin Connolly, that they had all the money they needed.

Large and small donations

[ image: Brian Reeve...culmination of a dream]
Brian Reeve...culmination of a dream
He says he received 3,000 donations, ranging from 20 to 200,000 francs (£20,000) with the Paris city hall also donating money.

Mr Cardot said: "I wanted to show Churchill's strength, his determination, and also his humour.

"This is a man on the move, a man who won't stop."

Churchill, known as "The Lion" in France, will stand next to Georges Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister during World War I, who was known as "The Tiger".

[ image: Churchill in famous pose]
Churchill in famous pose
Churchill's plinth will bear the immortal words: "We shall never surrender."

Mr Reeve, 62, said: "This is a message for the young generations.

"As a child I suffered the Blitz in London and I have vivid memories of Churchill walking the streets. He brought us courage. Even as kids we were very, very, very impressed."

Mr Reeve said he had received encouragement from the French President Jacques Chirac - himself a Gaullist - in 1993 when he was Mayor of Paris.

Not all are in favour

Kevin Connolly reports from Paris on how Churchill is viewed in France
But Churchill remains a figure of hate for a minority of the French population.

They find it hard to forget his decision to scuttle the Vichy French fleet in Tunisia rather than let it fall into the hands of the Nazis.

He is also remembered for ordering Allied bombing of occupied France, which led to many French deaths.

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