King Charles will become the first British royal to address the French senate on his rescheduled tour to the country later this month.
The King and Queen will head to France from September 20-22 and the programme is brimming with high-profile engagements, as French President Emmanuel Marcon prepares to roll out the red carpet.
A glittering state banquet will be held in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and the King has been invited to address Senators and members of the National Assembly – in both French and English – at the French Senate.
Other notable events include a bilateral meeting with the President and a ceremony of remembrance at the Arc de Triomphe.
The state visit is part of the new Anglo-French charm offensive after years of tense relations strained by Brexit and disagreements over how best to handle the growing number of migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats.
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“The state visit will celebrate Britain’s relationship with France, marking our shared histories, culture and values,’’ said Chris Fitzgerald, deputy private secretary to the King.
King Charles had intended to make France the scene of his first overseas visit in tribute to his close relationship with Macron, forged through their shared focus on protecting the environment and fighting climate change.
But that honour went to Germany, after the first leg of a planned two-nation European tour was postponed as violent protests erupted in France over Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age.
Officials on both sides of the Channel hope that the delay will make it possible to stage the pomp and ceremony of a state visit in the spirit of celebration rather than siege.
The trip will begin with a service of remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to mark “the shared sacrifices of the past and an enduring legacy of cooperation.”
Later, the King will meet with members of the National Assembly and Senate, providing a new venue for the monarch to show off his impressive language skills after he wowed his audience by switching seamlessly between German and English during a speech to the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament, in March.
Meanwhile the Queen will join Mme Macron to launch an unprecented new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
In Bordeaux, the King will meet emergency workers and communities affected by the 2022 wildfires in the area and visit the Forêt Experimentale, or experimental forest, a project designed to monitor the impact of climate on urban woodlands.
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They will also meet with community sports groups as France hosts the Rugby World Cup, which runs from September 8 until October 28.
One of the highlights of the three-day state visit will the black tie state dinner at the Palace of Versailles.
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