20 September 2023

King and Queen arrive in France at start of three-day state visit

20 September 2023

The King and Queen arrived in France to a guard of honour as they began their three-day state visit to the country.

Charles and Camilla are visiting Paris and Bordeaux, six months after the trip had to be rescheduled because of widespread rioting across the country.

On Wednesday afternoon, the royal couple landed at Paris’s Orly Airport, and were greeted by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and other diplomats.

An officer and 20 guardsmen from the Republican Guard, which is part of the French National Gendarmerie, were lined up to greet them.

The couple flew on a private chartered “baby Voyager” Airbus plane from Farnborough, Hampshire.

Camilla wore a dusky pink wool crepe coat dress by Fiona Clare, and a pink beret-style hat by milliner Philip Treacy, which she held on to tightly amid the blustery conditions.

French President Emmanuel Macron issued a poignant welcome ahead of Charles’s arrival, writing on social media: “You visited as a Prince, you return as a King. Your Majesty, welcome.”

The King and Queen are due to meet up with Mr Macron, 45, and his wife Brigitte, 70, for a ceremony of remembrance and wreath-laying at the Arc de Triomphe in the centre of the capital.

As part of the ceremony, Charles will be invited by the president to symbolically light the monument’s eternal flame which burns in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars.

Afterwards, the foursome will process down the Champs Elysees by car towards the Elysee Palace, the president’s official residence, where Charles and Mr Macron will sit down for talks.

In the evening, Charles and Camilla will be guests of honour at a grand black tie state banquet hosted by Mr and Mrs Macron in the Palace of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors.

Both the King and Mr Macron will address the 160 guests, who will include high-profile figures chosen for their contribution to UK-France relations.

The majority of the original royal programme has been retained but a few new elements have been added, including Camilla and Mrs Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

The King will become the first British monarch to give a speech from France’s senate chamber to senators and national assembly members 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 King and Queen’s 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.

Germany – the second leg of the overseas tour – became the historic first state visit destination for Charles and Camilla instead.

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