In 1957, the Queen of England, Isabel II, went to France on her first official visit, four years after being crowned. She was received by the then president, René Coty. He Palace of Versailleswhere they had dinner and where he later returned years later, described it like this: “It’s a lovely mix of what’s both similar and different in our countries.”
All that pomp and circumstance so French and British at the same time was repeated this Wednesday, dinner at Versailles included, in a sequence in which the protagonists changedbut not the substance of the visit: reinforce the historic alliance between both countries.
The King of England, Charles IIIy Camilawere received with all honors by Emmanuel Macron and the first lady, Brigitte Macron, at the start of a visit that will last three days. It is the first that Carlos III makes to the country as King, after the death of his mother just a year ago. It should have been done last March, but France was living at that time violent demonstrations against Macron’s pension reform and had to be suspended for security reasons. For this occasion there was a display to match: 30,000 agents.
The objective is polishing the Franco-British union, which has been somewhat weakened after the United Kingdom left the European Union. The timing for both countries is perfect. In 2024 they will celebrate 120 years of the cordial agreement, which marked the end of hostilities between London and Paris and the beginning of a peaceful and friendly relationship. Also that year is the anniversary of the Normandy landings, when the Allies crossed from England to France and liberated the country (and Europe) from Nazi occupation. The former British minister Denis Mcshane defined this love hate relationship as follows: « France and England are like an old married couple. Sometimes they want to kill each other, but they would never consider a divorce.
The royal sequence began with an event at the Arc de Triomphe, where the King of England lit the flame of the unknown soldier, the anthems of both countries were heard and the fighter jets paraded. A car tour of the Champs-Elysées followed (Macron and Charles III, in one car; Camilla and Brigitte, in another).