France was originally intended to be the destination for King Charles’s first overseas visit as monarch, but the country was pipped to the post by Germany after a trip to Paris and Bordeaux was postponed back in March. And now, details of the rescheduled tour have been announced, with a slightly tweaked schedule and a new date set for late September.
“The King and Queen will undertake a State Visit to France, from Wednesday 20th to Friday 22nd September 2023. The visit will celebrate the United Kingdom’s relationship with France, marking our shared histories, culture and values,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement today. Highlights of the three-day program include a State Banquet hosted at the iconic Palace of Versailles by President Macron and Mrs. Macron, and a tour of an organic vineyard in Bordeaux. The King will also become the first British royal to address the National Assembly from the French Senate, with his speech expected to include sections in French.
The trip is a chance to exercise the “soft power” of the royal family when it comes to relationships with European countries in the post-Brexit era. It follows the successful visit to Germany in March, which a Foreign Office source told reporters this week that Britain was still realizing very real benefits from. The source also pointed out that the speed with which the France state visit was rescheduled was testament to the importance of the trip to both countries.
The banquet at the Palace of Versailles, which will take place on the evening of the first day, will see Charles follow in the footsteps of his mother Queen Elizabeth, who visited the Palace in 1957 during her first state visit to France. Received by President René Coty, the then young Queen attended lunch in the Hall of Mirrors.
Other 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 Mrs. Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize. In Bordeaux, 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.
Charles and Camilla’s original trip was cancelled due to mass protests in France over Macron’s unpopular pension reform.
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