King Charles will become the first British monarch in history to address the French senate today – before meeting rugby stars with Brigitte Macron
King Charles will make history today as he becomes the first British leader to address the French Senate, where he will again speak of the close friendship between the UK and France.
The historic day, which will see the monarch speak in both English and French, comes after the King enjoyed a lavish banquet at the Palace of Versailles last night.
Charles sipped on champagne with the President Emmanuel Macron and cheered the French leader on as he spoke about the two country’s ‘firm friendship’ in Versailles’ extraordinary Hall of Mirrors.
The King was joined by his wife Queen Camilla, French and British dignitaries as well as a number of high-profile celebrities, including Rolling Stones front man Sir Mick Jagger and actor Hugh Grant.
Well-known faces of English football, including former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Patrick Vieira, who played for Arsenal and managed Crystal Palace, were also in attendance.
Other dinner guests in the glittering Hall of Mirrors included Charlotte Gainsbourg, the actor and daughter of French singer Serge Gainsbourg and British actor Jane Birkin. Guests dined on blue lobster, poached Bresse chicken with mushroom gratin, and a selection of French and English cheeses, including Comte from France, and Stichelton from Britain, all washed down with vintage wine and Champagne.
The dessert was a macaron with lychee and rose sorbet and raspberry compôte – but foie gras was off the menu, with the King having banned it from his royal household.
The extraordinary scene as King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive for last night’s State Banquet at the Palace of Versailles
President Macron puts his hand on the King’s shoulder
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) greets Queen Camilla
King and President clinked champagne flutes at the historic palace west of Paris
Chandeliers donned the room as celebrity guests tucked into a banquet in the Hall of Mirrors
In a speech – switching between French and English – The King highlighted the ‘long and complex’ history between Britain and France ‘that has not been ‘entirely straightforward’ with a joke that promoted laughter at the table.
‘I think it was a French King who once said that he would rather be a wood-cutter than the King of England, dealing with our national complexities. As an avid forester, I am pleased to report that it is entirely possible to combine the two! ‘ Charles joked .
He said the postponed visit had been ‘worth the wait’ and he and his wife were ‘both enormously touched by the magnificent welcome that has been extended to us, as had the moving tribute paid by the country on the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
‘Mr. President, among the many profoundly moving gestures here, the flying of the Union flag at the Elysée was particularly poignant’ he said
‘Your words, at that time, meant a great dealt to us too. You said that she had touched your hearts – and it was she who held France in the greatest affection, as, of course, did my grandmother Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.’
He reminisced that his parents’ first official visit together was to France in 1948, shortly after their wedding.
‘By all accounts, they made quite a splash, dancing till the early hours at the glamourous Chez Carrere in the Rue Pierre Charron, serenaded by Edith Piaf,’ he said.
‘I suspect it may have left an indelible impression on me, even six months before I was born – La Vie en Rose is one of my favourite songs to this day!
He described the visit as a symbol of the ‘enduring relationship between our two countries’.
‘The connections between our people are myriad, and represent the lifeblood of our Entente Cordiale, which was inspired by my great great Grandfather, King Edward VII,’ he said.
King Charles and Queen Camilla twinned with President and Brigitte Macron in France today as the two couples headed to a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles
Charles delivers a speech as French President Emmanuel Macron listens to during a state dinner in the Hall of Mirrors
Meanwhile, Brigitte and Camilla matched in navy dresses and sparkling accessorises
Mick Jagger joined his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick on the red carpet to attend the State Banquet on the Palace of Versailles
Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of the late handbag muse Jane Birkin looked typically French in a chic black dress with semi opaque tights
Footballing legend Didier Drogba, who played for Marseille before heading to the Premiere League,
Hugh Grant and Anna Elisabet Eberstein arrive at the Palace of Versailles ahead of the State Dinner held in honor of King Charles III and Queen Camilla
FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wegner – who is French but lives in the UK for decades while managing Arsenal – was also in attendance
He also said he was ‘heartened’ to see Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visit Paris earlier this year for the first Franco-British Summit in five years to discuss cooperation including Ukraine, the ‘misery’ of human trafficking, access to energy and a sustainable future.
Toasting the Entente Cordiale, he ended: ‘Whatever lies ahead, may it endure, faithful and constant, for centuries to come.’
Earlier Charles gave Mr Macron a book containing photographs of the pair together, as well as a complete edition of French philosopher Voltaire’s writings, when he visited the Elysee Palace, the president’s official residence.
In return, Mr Macron gave the King a golden coin featuring Charles’s portrait, as well as a prize-winning French novel.
The pair arrived at the Elysee together by car, closely followed by the Queen and the president’s wife Brigitte Macron.
They later planted an oak tree, also a gift from Mr Macron.
During the earlier event, Camilla wore a dusky pink, wool crepe coat-dress by Fiona Clare, and a pink beret-style hat by milliner Philip Treacy.
The couple had landed at Paris Orly airport, where they were greeted with a guard of honour from the Republican Guard, which is part of the French National Gendarmerie.
They then attended a ceremony of remembrance and wreath-laying at the Arc de Triomphe in the centre of the capital.
Charles symbolically lit the monument’s eternal flame, which burns in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars.
It was the first time in 30 years the ceremony has been included in a state visit.
The French and British national anthems were played and there was a flypast by the Patrouille de France and Red Arrows before the couples travelled down the Champs Elysees by car.
The majority of the original royal programme has been retained but a few new elements have been added, including the Queen and Mrs Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
King Charles smiles warmly as he chats to President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on the first day of his state visit
The pair took part in an oak tree planting ceremony to commemorate the visit in the garden of the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris yesterday
Charles will become the first British monarch to give a speech from France’s senate chamber on Thursday.
Other highlights include the royal couple meeting sports stars as France hosts the Rugby World Cup.
When the couple travel to Bordeaux, home to 39,000 Britons, they will meet UK and French military personnel to hear about how the two nations are collaborating on defence.
The planned tour in March was to be their first state visit, but it was postponed at the last minute after violent nationwide demonstrations by those opposed to Mr Macron’s retirement age reforms.
Bordeaux’s town hall was set on fire by protesters just a few days before the trip was due to begin.
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