Social media users were outraged by a recent clip of French President Emmanuel Macron appearing to hide a luxury wristwatch during an interview, as pension-related protests in France intensify.
Macron appeared to take off his watch under a table during a TF1/France 2 interview. Twitter users speculated that the president removed his watch to appear less wealthy.
The Élysée Palace made a statement to French newspaper L’Independant dismissing the rumors, saying that Macron wanted to avoid hitting the watch on the table.
“The President does not take off his watch for the sake of hiding it but because he had just banged it loudly against the table,” the translated statement said. “The noise is clearly audible just seconds before the start of the video shared on social media.”
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Twitter users claimed that the Bell and Ross watch costs €80,000, but that does not appear to be true. French news channel BFMTV identified the watch as a V1-92 Blue Steel model, which goes for 2,400 Euros, or about $2,587.
Regardless, commentators still expressed outrage over the clip.
“Macron while asking for sacrifices from the French people realizes he is wearing a € 80,000 watch and like a magician makes it disappear under the table. Unworthy,” another chimed in.
Several others joined in the criticism, including Donald Trump Jr.
“Do as I say not as I do!” the former president’s son said.
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The interview came as hundreds of thousands of French citizens protest against the government’s move to increase the retirement age. In January, Macron announced that his government would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 in order to keep the pension system solvent.
Macron announced this month that he would pass the pension reform using a special constitutional power, rather than it being voted on in France’s National Assembly.
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In addition to the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles being closed down, roughly 12,000 security forces were deployed to French streets, including 5,000 in Paris. Some of the protests have turned into violent riots as well, with rioters throwing stones and aiming fireworks at police.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.