21 September 2023

Queen takes on French president’s wife in game of table tennis

21 September 2023

The Queen has shown her competitive side by taking on Brigitte Macron, the French president’s wife, at a game of table tennis.

Camilla was invited to pick up a bat while visiting a community centre in Saint-Denis, northern Paris, on Thursday as the King met sports stars such as former Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba and French rugby prop Demba Bamba.

It came on the second day of the couple’s state visit to France, which is hosting the Rugby World Cup.

Charles laughed as his wife practised hitting the ball before the Queen challenged Mrs Macron to a game.

The wife of Emmanuel Macron appeared to get the better of Camilla as they played for a few minutes in a well-spirited match.

The Queen hit the ball into the net several times and joked with Mrs Macron about the game.

Charles chatted with Bamba and Welsh rugby player Dan Biggar, who said the King’s visit has given France a lift.

Bamba added: “Everyone in France is enjoying the World Cup at the minute, so it’s great to have this visit now.”

Camilla and Mrs Macron then joined a group of children in an inflatable boxing ring, where she hugged a few of them, before they all posed for a picture.

The Queen encouraged the children to “say cheese”, before adding “fromage”.

Charles later visited a nearby coffee shop to speak with representatives from Objectif Emploi, which helps vulnerable young people find work.

He greeted Parisian well-wishers who had waited in the rain for him.

However, two people were escorted away by police officers after shouting as the King walked around the town square.

Charles was then met by Qatari businessman Nasser Al Khelaifi, president of football club Paris St Germain (PSG), who presented the King a shirt reading “Charles” and the number three on the back.

PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe also shook hands and briefly spoke to the King.

Meanwhile, the Queen had peeled off to hear the stories of “brave” domestic abuse victims in a nearby town hall who she acknowledged had “been through hell”.

As they sat down, Camilla looked around for Mrs Macron before saying: “Oh, there she is. You are right behind me as usual.”

Earlier in the day, the Queen and Mrs Macron together launched a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

The pair viewed several treasures belonging to the library’s collection which hold a connection to the UK and France, including the first edition of Les Miserables and William Shakespeare texts.

While looking at the items, a member of the press let out a loud sneeze, causing the Queen to burst into giggles.

Camilla, wearing a grey and white chiffon print dress and white Fiona Clare coat dress, with Chanel shoes and bag and a diamond Cartier brooch, formally launched the prize while speaking French, which she admitted was “slightly rusty”.

She said: “I very much hope that this prize will go a long way to proving that Victor Hugo was unfair to us when he said, ‘L’Angleterre a deux livres’, ‘England has two books’ – as dearly as we value the Bible and Shakespeare, I promise that we have many more than two, as the esteemed authors gathered here demonstrate… and, just as in France, our writers every year create new masterpieces which this prize aims to celebrate.

“Brigitte Macron and I share a deep love of literature and a passion to promote literacy: through our respective work, we have seen first-hand the life-changing power of books to bring us joy, comfort, companionship, laughter and tears, opening our eyes to others’ experiences and reminding us that we are not alone.

“To quote Victor Hugo once again, ‘Apprendre a lire, c’est allumer du feu; toute syllabeepelee etincelle’, ‘To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark’.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you have the ability to light fires with your words and I greatly look forward to reading the winners’ books next year.”

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