King Charles and Queen Camilla have landed in Paris for a three-day state visit to France. And their first stop after touching down at Orly Airport was to the iconic Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath and officially be welcomed to the country by President and Madame Macron.
The tour was rescheduled from March, when France was in turmoil due to protests over pension reform. Highlights of the coming days include a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles this evening and a speech by the King at the Senate tomorrow, much of which is expected to be delivered in French. The decision to begin the trip at the Arc de Triomphe has echoes of Queen Elizabeth’s final state visit to France in 2014, where she was also given a ceremonial welcome in the same spot.
Security was tight ahead of the royal arrival today, with all the streets leading up to the Arc de Triomphe closed off to the public and a heavy police presence at every entrance. A small number of invited guests took their seats in stands, but the general public was unable to see the welcome ceremony other than via broadcast. After the King and Queen were greeted by President and Madame Macron, both national anthems were played and the King inspected a line-up of French military. Following this, a wreath representing those who have lost their lives in combat was laid by the King and President before each took a moment of quiet reflection. A spectacular flyover of the British Red Arrows and French Patrouille de France soared overhead before the King and Queen greeted guests including military veterans. After the ceremonial welcome, the royals were scheduled to have a meeting at the Élysée Palace, followed by a tree-planting at the residence of the British Ambassador.
The three-day trip is a chance to exercise the “soft power” of the royals when it comes to relationships with European countries in the post-Brexit era. And both sides were clearly keen to emphasise their warm greetings. Ahead of the King's arrival, President Macron posted a video on social media showing Charles's previous visits to the country. "You visited as a Prince, you return as a King. Your Majesty, welcome," the President wrote. Queen Camilla gave a nod to her hosts with her fashion choices by wearing a pink beret-shaped hat by Philip Treacy along with a dusky pink wool crepe coat dress by Fiona Clare. And on their departure from the U.K. the King and Queen penned a joint personal post on social media, telling their followers, "We are so looking forward to joining you in Paris and Bordeaux, as we embark on our first State Visit as King and Queen to France, a country for which we both have the greatest love and admiration. We will celebrate the special bond between our two countries and all that your wonderful country has to offer. À bientôt France!"
You visited as a Prince, you return as a King. Your Majesty, welcome. pic.twitter.com/HcDXHcylRl
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 20, 2023
Engagements on the agenda for Charles in Paris include a bilateral meeting with President Macron at the Elysée Palace and a sustainability reception to hear more about how business leaders plan to invest to combat climate change. Queen Camilla will join Madame Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize. In Bordeaux on Friday, the royals will meet emergency workers and communities affected by 2022 wildfires as well as hearing about how UK and French military personnel are collaborating on defense.
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