How Emmanuel Macron has copied world leaders

It’s Emmanuel Mimic-ron! French leader has been mocked for copying Ukraine’s Zelensky in ‘war room’ pics, but it’s not the first time he’s taken inspiration from other world leaders for his photo opportunities

  • French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be modelling himself after Ukraine’s President Zelensky 
  • The clean-cut French leader was photographed wearing a khaki hooded sweatshirt at the Élysée Palace
  • Zelensky has spent the last few weeks dressed in similarly practical clothing as he co-ordinates war response 
  • But Zelensky is far from the only leader who appears to have inspired Macron – as these photos show  

France’s Emmanuel Macron has been roundly ridiculed for his ‘Zelensky-inspired war-room’ photo shoot. But, as these photos show, it is far from the first time Mr Macron appears to have drawn on other world leaders for his photo ops.

Whether it’s a presidential motorcade or playing a charity football match, there are countless examples of Mr Macron apparently borrowing from other world leader’s playbooks to craft his own public image.  

During the French presidential election of 2017, Mr Macron celebrated his first-round voting win by throwing his hands in the air in the ‘V for Victory’ sign… A gesture made famous by Sir Winston Churchill some 80 years earlier. 

On a visit to the Vatican the following year, Mr Macron shared a joke with Pope Francis in a light-hearted moment that was reminiscent of President Obama’s widely photographed audience four years earlier. 

Theresa May, George W. Bush, and even Boris Johnson also appear to have inspired Mr Macron during his almost five years in office (he is seeking re-election next month).

In one recent photo, Macron has his eyes closed and is rubbing his furrowed brow in a manner that echoes President John F Kennedy’s desperate body language during a fraught phone conversation in the early 1960s.   

Yet no example is more striking than the ‘war room’ album. The seemingly ‘candid shots’ (taken by his official photographer) show the unshaven president working in the grand surrounds of the Élysée Palace in dark jeans and a black French special forces hoodie, an outfit that has been described as ‘hacker luxe’.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky who, out of wartime necessity, has ditched his presidential tailored suits for practical khaki casuals as he co-ordinates his country’s response to the wartime invasion. 

The bizarre snaps led to accusations that he is trying to emulate some of the same popularity enjoyed by Zelensky, who only today spoke to the Canadian Parliament via videolink.  


Macron (left) is barely recognisable, his baggy black hoodie a stark departure from his preferred slim navy jacket. He is known as a sharp dresser, with almost every image of him shared by the world’s media and his professional photographer alike displaying a suited and booted world leader. Right, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has spent the past three weeks clad in simple khaki hoodies and t-shirts as he co-ordinates his country’s defences. Some believe Macron has noticed the incredible swell of support for Zelensky, and emulated his style. But who else has inspired the French leader?


Warm embrace: Macron greeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a hug on his arrival at the Chateau of Chantilly, near Paris, in 2019. Perhaps he was eager to show he got on with the visiting politician just as well as his predecessor, Francois Hollande, who was welcomed in a similar fashion by Modi at the Rock Garden in Chandigarh in January 2016. However it is Macron, known for his tactile nature, who looks the more comfortable with this intimate form of greeting


Friends with Francis! When President Macron was invited to the Vatican in 2018, he shared a joke with the Pope while exchanging gifts in a light-hearted moment that was reminiscent of President Obama’s jovial private audience in 2014. Obama enjoyed a 52-minute meeting with the Pope, which is almost double the length of the Pontiff’s meeting with Trump

Parading through the streets: Newly elected French president Macron waves as he parades in a military car on the Champs-Élysées after his formal inauguration ceremony in May 2017. The pomp and ceremony is traditional for newly elected presidents of France. Above, President Charles de Gaulle makes the same journey in an open top car in 1968



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A kiss for Mummy! President Macron enjoyed a warm relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who left office last year. In 2018, the Chancellor greeted the French President with a kiss as she welcomed him to Berlin ahead of talks at the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace. He is far from the only leader to greet Mrs Merkel in such an affectionate fashion. In 2006, shortly after Mrs Merkel took office, the visiting George W. Bush gave the German Chancellor a peck on the cheek


Touchy-feely: US President Donald Trump took Macron by the hand as they touted their burgeoning relationship on a visit to the White House in 2018. The tactile pair made headlines with their touchy-feeling interactions, with Macron at one point resting his hand on Trump’s knee. During a separate meeting, they had an extraordinary 30-second handshake that was seen by some as a power move by Trump. But the French president isn’t the only one who experienced a hands-on welcome. In January 2017, Trump appeared to reach for Theresa May’s hand as the British Prime Minister paid a visit to Washington DC


V for Victory: On the campaign trail of the 2017 election, Macron celebrated his first round win by throwing his hands up into the air in the ‘V for victory’ salute. The young politician was elected as president just three weeks later. The symbol, of course, is most closely associated with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Second World War. Though it started with a simple radio broadcast, the symbol took Europe by storm and became a rallying emblem for those under occupation. Right, Churchill greets photographers with his signature gesture outside Downing Street in 1943

Politicians play sport too! In October 201, Mr Macron took part in a match to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘Varietes club de France’, a team that brings together media personalities as well as famous former football players. Ditching the dress shoes for a pair of trainers and playing in a match is sometimes used by politicians to show they remain down-to-earth and aren’t afraid of looking a bit silly… as was the case when Boris Johnson played in a Red Cross charity match in Reaing in 2006


Favourite photo op: Visiting dignitaries to India cannot resist scheduling a stop at the Taj Mahal to take a photo in front of the landmark. President Macron was no different and posed for photographers on a visit in March 2018. Among the world leaders who have been snapped in almost the same place were George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara, in 1986. At the time Mr Bush was Vice President under Ronald Regan, who succeeded him as president in 1989, three years after the photo was taken


Fraught discussions: Difficult phone conversations and impossible problems are part and parcel of life as a president. In February, the French government released this photo of Macron (taken by an official photographer) following a conversation with Putin. Similar office photographs have been used throughout history to show the ‘human’ side of leadership. Right, John F Kennedy during a conversation with the USSR in the 1960s

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