Charles III begins a three-day state visit on Wednesday, repeatedly postponed due to demonstrations against pension reform in France. This will therefore be his first official visit to Paris as king.
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France rolls out the red carpet for the state visit of King Charles III. The sovereign, visiting for three days, is expected for a state dinner, Wednesday September 20, at the Palace of Versailles, in the presence of more than 150 guests in the Hall of Mirrors.
His trip, initially planned for the spring, was postponed due to demonstrations against pension reform. This visit will therefore be the first to France as a king.
Despite this missed first meeting last spring, the program of the 74-year-old British monarch and 76-year-old Queen Camilla has not changed much. It oscillates between strong symbolic commitments and meetings with actors from French civil society.
Upon their arrival in Paris, the royal couple will be welcomed by President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the Arc de Triomphe, where they will rekindle the flame of the Unknown Soldier in the early afternoon, before walking down the Champs-Élysées , and to participate in the famous state dinner at the Palace of Versailles.
The French president’s office said the dinner echoes Queen Elizabeth II’s state visit in 1972, when she was welcomed to the palace by President Georges Pompidou. King Charles appreciated the idea of following in his mother’s footsteps, according to the Élysée. On the menu, two starred chefs have included blue lobster as a starter and Bresse poultry.
King Charles III in the Paris suburbs
In Paris, Charles III will also give a speech to parliamentarians in the Senate, during which he is expected to speak partly in French, as last March when he spoke in German before the Bundestag in Berlin during a trip which was to follow the one initially planned in Paris.
The two heads of state will also highlight subjects that are close to their hearts, such as the environment, the promotion of reading or youth entrepreneurship.
Read alsoCharles III: an eco-friendly king but not too much
A meeting is planned with local associations and sports figures in Saint-Denis, a Parisian suburban town which will be one of the major venues next year for the Paris Summer Olympics.
Charles and Camilla will then travel to Bordeaux, which was once under the control of the English King Henry II, and where 39,000 Britons now reside. They must visit a vineyard and meet firefighters who took part in the fight against the fires which ravaged the Landes department last year.
Ease tensions inherited from Brexit
On both sides of the Channel, this visit was marked as a celebration of the old ties between the two countries, at a time when their leaders are trying to ease the tensions inherited from Brexit.
If as head of state of a constitutional monarchy, the British king must observe strict reserve, politics is never absent from these state visits and the trip of Charles III is no exception, confirming the gestures recent openness and appeasement of the British government.
The sovereign’s state visits are “an asset for (British) diplomacy (…) above the political issues of the moment”, such as the persistent tensions between London and Paris over illegal migrant crossings to the Kingdom -United, estimates Ed Owens, royal historian.
“There will be a certain informal diplomacy” during these two days, he adds, but for Charles III the objective is above all to show his commitment as “an ecological king outside British borders”.
“Warm relationship” between Charles III and Emmanuel Macron
After a first year as sovereign, during which he especially strived to embody the stability and continuity of the monarchy, rather than to initiate radical reforms, this visit is part of “the traditional approach of the royal diplomacy” that the French have observed in the past.
Charles III and Emmanuel Macron have already met, notably during the king’s coronation on May 6, and maintain “a warm relationship”, they say in their entourage.
The French president’s tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death in September 2022 was very appreciated in the United Kingdom.