French petition: Queen must ‘hand back’ Crown Jewels

A petition to 'reclaim' the British crown jewels has been signed by 2500 people in the town of Angers, and the man behind it says he is ready to go to trial over the issue.

French petition: Queen must 'hand back' Crown Jewels

Artist Calixte de Nigremont, the man who initiated the petition, says there will be a trial to finalise which country has the rights to the jewels during the upcoming Accroche-Coeurs street festival.

Speaking exclusively to The Local, Nigremont said: “The petition is serious. It’s a bit of a nod towards the British to remind them of the history and relationship between France and the United Kingdom.

“If we do eventually get back the crown jewels I plan to do with them what you do in the UK, and display them for the public to see. I like to think if it as giving something back to the French public.”

The Plantagenet petition, named after the house of Kings who ruled in England until the 16th Century, claims the crown is rightfully theirs after Henry VII Tudor decapitated the last Angevin heir to the throne, Edouard Plantagenet, in 1499.

At its widest extent, the Angevin dynasty controlled England, parts of Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the entire western side of France. The dynasty's heartland was in Angers and Chinon, where the monarchs traditionally held court.

“In compensation for the plundering of the rights of the Angevin dynasty and the political assassination of its last direct descendent,  this petition demands that the United Kingdom give back to the Angevins, rightful heirs to the Plantagenets, the Crown Jewels,” reads the petition statement.

After receiving 2500 signatures through an online petition and arranging trial dates for the 7, 8 and 9 September, Nigremont is calling on British lawyers to start preparing themselves.

“I’m in the middle of talks with British lawyers, who are extremely interested in the case and say it is absolutely worth defending.

“I have also spoken to British historians who say the petition absolutely has a legitimate grounding.”

Buckingham Palace has apparently heard about the story through reports in British papers, but refuses to comment.

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Villages across Swiss Alps set to fight proposed base jumping ban

A proposal to ban base jumping in the Bernese Highlands has drawn criticism, with locals countering claims that the extreme sport is dangerous.

Villages across Swiss Alps set to fight proposed base jumping ban
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Kiener Nellen, a National Councillor in Bern, has instructed the Federal Council to consider a nationwide ban on the practice. 

Nellen said that the dangerous sport was harmful to Switzerland’s reputation, while also putting local rescue staff at risk. 

Nellen told the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen broadcasting company that base jumping ”endangers the reputation of Switzerland’s tourism industry and the Bernese Highlands”. 

An average of 4.5 deaths per year

More and more base jumps take place in Switzerland every year, with more than 30,000 completed in 2018.

While base jumping is becoming a more established practice, it remains unsafe. 

READ: British base jumper dies in Lauterbrunnen

Four people died base jumping in 2017 in Switzerland, down from nine in 2016 and ten in 2015. A total of 81 people have died in Switzerland since 2002, an average of 4.5 per year. 

'Not thoughtless weirdos'

Several have spoken out against the ban, arguing that the practice is becoming safer – and that it is crucial to the local economy. 

Aside from the money spent by the base jumpers when they stay in Switzerland, they are also required to buy a ‘Landing Card’. 

The money from these cards is paid back to local farmers who offer their properties as landing pads and began as an initiative of the base jumpers themselves. 

Base jumping. Michael Mathes / AFP

Annette Weber, who works at a cafe in the Bernese Highlands, told Swiss online newspaper Watson that the stereotype of irresponsible, risk-taking base jumpers was not accurate. 

“They’re not half-wild weirdos who throw themselves thoughtlessly off the cliffs,” she said. 

“It would be totally ridiculous to criminalize base jumping.” 

Lauterbrunnen Mayor Martin Stäger (SVP) agreed, saying that a ban would be not be effective. 

“The base jumpers mostly stick to the rules in our valley,” he said. 

“A ban would be completely counterproductive. How can such a ban be controlled?

“Then people would just jump at the unofficial, more dangerous places.”

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