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