Lib­erty of Paris ’68 to fly a flag for united EU

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Abi­gail Fry­mann Rouch

She has sym­bol­ised the na­tional mood once be­fore. Recre­at­ing a 19th cen­tury mas­ter­piece of Lady Lib­erty lead­ing the French to rev­o­lu­tion, a stat­uesque por­trait of Caro­line de Ben­dern emerged as a defin­ing im­age of the protests that swept Europe in the sum­mer of 1968.

Now, al­most five decades on, De Ben­dern, a Bri­tish for­mer model and dis­in­her­ited aris­to­crat is tak­ing to the streets again – to demon­strate op­po­si­tion to Brexit and fly the flag for the EU at this week’s Unite for Europe march.

Thou­sands of pro-EU pro­test­ers are ex­pected at marches in Ed­in­burgh and Lon­don on Satur­day. But De Ben­dern said the at­mos­phere would be dif­fer­ent from 1968 when “there wasn’t all this hate”. The March-June protests of that year brought to­gether stu­dents, artists, left­ists and work­ers de­mand­ing bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, sex­ual lib­er­a­tion and po­lit­i­cal and so­cial re­form.

De Ben­dern, now 76 and liv­ing in France, said she was con­cerned to­day over Bri­tain break­ing away from the EU at a time of Rus­sian ac­tivism. Eng­land could be­come iso­lated. “The [Leave cam­paign] was lies and xeno­pho­bia,” said De Ben­dern, who is now ap­ply­ing for dual na­tion­al­ity in case her sit­u­a­tion is jeop­ar­dised by Brexit.

On Satur­day, in Lon­don, she will carry an EU flag in a nod to her 1968 im­age. The photo had drawn im­me­di­ate com­par­i­son with Lib­erty Lead­ing the Peo­ple, the Delacroix oil of 1830 com­mem­o­rat­ing the French rev­o­lu­tion. The im­age of her hold­ing a Vi­et­cong flag – at the height of op­po­si­tion to the US war against Viet­nam – over a sea of young pro­test­ers, was re­pro­duced world­wide.

Pho­to­graph: Jean-Pierre Rey/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Caro­line de Ben­dern, pic­tured to­day in France, right, was car­ried on a pro­tester’s shoul­ders at the Paris 1968 so­cial re­form demon­stra­tions, left, cre­at­ing an im­age that was com­pared to the Delacroix oil paint­ing of 1830 de­pict­ing Lady Lib­erty Lead­ing the Peo­ple, top right

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