Top French honour for city resident

2012-06-02 00:00

CITY resident Glenn Flanagan has been awarded France’s highest honour, the Légion d’Honneur.

Flanagan received the insignia of the Knight of the French National Order of Légion d’Honneur from France’s ambassador to South Africa, Jacques Lapouge, at a reception at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg last night.

Flanagan joins Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel prize-winning novelist Nadine Gordimer as only the third South African recipient of the award.

The award is in recognition of Flanagan’s promotion of the many South African/French connections via such initiatives as the French Presence in KwaZulu-Natal and La Route de Prince Imperial Louis Napoléon.

Appropriately, she received the decoration on the anniversary of the death of the Prince Imperial near Vryheid during the Anglo-Zulu War on June 1, 1879.

Flanagan described the award as an “incredible honour” and expressed her gratitude to the French ambassador for holding the investiture ceremony in Pietermaritzburg instead of the embassy in Pretoria.

Flanagan concluded her acceptance speech: “Vive le Francais, vive le France, vive Pietermaritzburg, vive KwaZulu-Natal, et bien sûr, vive le Prince”.

The Prince Imperial route, which Flanagan created, is listed in several French travel guides to South Africa and traces the footsteps of Louis Napoléon from the time of his arrival in Pietermaritzburg in April, 1879, through to his death in a skirmish in the Jojosi valley on June 1, 1879.

The Legion d’Honneur was instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the First Republic of France, in 1802 and the roster of recipients feature leading figures in international political and cultural life.

Flanagan, who is also president of the Alliance Francaise in Pietermaritzburg, was previously honoured with the equivalent of a French knighthood, the Chevalier de L’Ordre National du Mérite. She is also a Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society, and has received medals from the Institut des Hautes Études de la Défense Nationale as well as from the Collége de L’Enseignement Supérieur de l’Armée de Terre.

• feature1@witness.co.za

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