Elton John was given the top French civilian award, the Legion d’Honneur, during a ceremony on Friday, 21 June, at Élysée Palace, where the British icon was received the award from President Emmanuel Macron.
After receiving the award at the annual Fete de la Musique, the iconic singer-songwriter spoke to a crowd alongside Macron, using the opportunity to address his charity work, the Associated Press reports.
“Like music, the fight against AIDS has been my passion for many, many years,” John told the audience. “And like music this fight reminds me every day of the extraordinary power of the human spirit. And that things that bind us are stronger than those that divide us. It is this magical human spirit I will carry with me as a proud member of the Legion d’Honneur.”
The legendary artist was hailed as a “melodic genius” by Macron’s office and for being one of the first gay artists who elevated the LGBTQ community. Élysée Palace called John “an icon that knew how to set an example.”
During the ceremony, Macron asked world leaders to give donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ahead of an October summit in Lyon, France. He said that 27 million people have been treated and saved through the Global Fund that raised about 13 billion euros in 2016.
“We must do better,” he said, calling on people to mobilise over the next 110 days. “Make life impossible for us,” he told the crowd, appealing to the youth of Europe and the world to badger their leaders.
Elton John took up the call. “Success is essential,” he said, adding: “It is of great importance to me.”
The French president also tweeted a call to action alongside a video of the ceremony with John.
Since its inception in 1992 in the U.S. and 1993 in the UK, John’s charity The Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised over $500 million in the fight against AIDS.
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