King Charles made history today by becoming the first British monarch to address the French Senate – and used his speech to declare global warming as ‘our most existential challenge’ – just hours after Rishi Sunak put the brakes on Net Zero.
The monarch spoke of the close friendship between the UK and France and the importance of tackling climate change, calling for a new ‘entente cordiale’ specifically to ‘tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency’.
Speaking in perfect French, Charles suggested France and Britain needed the same unity shown in the World Wars and now Ukraine to ‘stand together’ on the environment.
He said: ‘The challenge facing our planet is both great and grave. These horrifying events have once more demonstrated the fragility of so much that we hold dear. Just as we stand together against military aggression, so must we strive together to protect the world from our most existential challenge of all – that of global warming, climate change and the catastrophic destruction of nature.
‘Let us, therefore, cherish and nurture our entente cordiale. Let us renew it for future generations so that, I would like to propose, it also becomes an entente pour la durabilite (agreement for sustainability) – in order to tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency more effectively. Let us stride forward with hope and courage and do so together’.
Charles spoke out as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak went on the attack over his plans to delay a raft of flagship environmental changes, insisting he ‘passionately’ believes in hitting the 2050 Net Zero target but believes he can do it without lumbering Britons with bills of up to £15,000 to hit green targets.
Charles addresses Senators and members of the National Assembly at the French Senate, the first time a member of the British Royal Family has spoken there, and made a strong statement on climate change
King Charles used his speech to declare global warming as ‘our most existential challenge’
Charles spoke for 18 minutes, mainly in French
Britain’s King Charles is applauded by members of parliament after he delivered his speech
French Senators and members of the National Assembly greet Britain’s King Charles (C) with a standing ovasion at the French Senate
Brigitte Macron (L) and Queen Camilla (C) laugh as they speak with a staff member ahead of the launch of a new UK – France Literary Prize
Speaking in Paris today, the King spoke about his love for France and pledges to strengthen ‘indispensable’ France-UK relationship, including on climate change.
He said he was ‘moved’ to be speaking to the Senate and ‘touched’ by the welcome he had received on his 35th official visit to the country – but his first as King.
‘Quite simply the United Kingdom will always be one of France’s closest friends and allies’, he said.
He also spoke about his mother’s love of France – and President Macron’s tribute to her as the ‘golden thread’ binding France and Britain.
‘My mother died almost one year ago today. My family were moved beyond words for the tributes given across France. I can hardly describe how much these words meant to me. I can only thank you for the kindness you showed at a time of great grief’.
He added: ‘My mother’s gold thread will always shine brightly’.
The historic day, which saw the monarch speak in both English and French and receive standing ovations at the beginning and end, comes after the King enjoyed a lavish banquet at the Palace of Versailles last night.
Charles became the only British monarch ever to speak from the French senate chamber on the second day of his state visit to Paris and Bordeaux.
In a speech delivered in English and French, the King told of the ‘friendship and warm familiarity’ between the two countries, as well as the unity on issues such as climate change and foreign military aggression.
He said: ‘For the time that is granted to me as King, I pledge to do whatever I can to strengthen the indispensable relationship between the United Kingdom and France – and, today, I invite you to join me in this endeavour. Together, our potential is limitless.
‘Let us, therefore, cherish and nurture our entente cordiale. Let us renew it for future generations so that, I would like to propose, it also becomes an entente pour la durabilite (agreement for sustainability) – in order to tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency more effectively.
‘A commitment to each other, and to the values we so proudly share; a commitment inspired by the example of the past, and emboldened to grapple with the immense challenges in the world around us.
‘As neighbours, friends, partners and allies, there is no challenge to which we cannot rise, as we have done so often in the past. Let us stride forward with hope and courage – and let us do so together.’
The King opened his speech in French thanking members for his welcome and said: ‘I need hardly say how greatly honoured I am to have been invited by the Presidents of both Houses to speak here, in this hallowed chamber, which has been the upper house of French politics in one form or another since 1799.’
He was greeted with a round of applause as he quipped ‘may the best win’ between the French and English, Welsh and Scottish national teams competing in the Rugby World Cup being hosted in France.
He said in English: ‘Millions of us visit each other’s countries every year – a joy that we are now rediscovering after the disruption wrought by the pandemic.
‘Tens of thousands of British rugby fans are currently following their national team around France, enjoying the fantastic spectacle of the Rugby World Cup – my son and daughter-in-law among them.
‘Even when our national teams are drawn up on opposite ends of the pitch, they do so with mutual admiration and a shared commitment to the rules of the game – on which I will say only ‘pas de coups bas, et que le meilleur gagne!’
King Charles III reacts while sitting in a chair as he prepares to address Senators
President of the French National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet (R) and France’s Senate President Gerard Larcher (L) greet Britain’s King Charles
Charles is led to the Senate chamber where he is the first British monarch in history to address it
‘And, of course, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens have chosen to live their lives permanently in each other’s countries. This vibrant exchange between our people makes us immeasurably stronger, happier and more prosperous.’
Last night Charles sipped on champagne with the President Emmanuel Macron and cheered the French leader on as he spoke about the two country’s ‘firm friendship’ in Versailles’ extraordinary Hall of Mirrors.
The King was joined by his wife Queen Camilla, French and British dignitaries as well as a number of high-profile celebrities, including Rolling Stones front man Sir Mick Jagger and actor Hugh Grant.
Well-known faces of English football, including former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Patrick Vieira, who played for Arsenal and managed Crystal Palace, were also in attendance.
Other dinner guests in the glittering Hall of Mirrors included Charlotte Gainsbourg, the actor and daughter of French singer Serge Gainsbourg and British actor Jane Birkin. Guests dined on blue lobster, poached Bresse chicken with mushroom gratin, and a selection of French and English cheeses, including Comte from France, and Stichelton from Britain, all washed down with vintage wine and Champagne.
The dessert was a macaron with lychee and rose sorbet and raspberry compôte – but foie gras was off the menu, with the King having banned it from his royal household.
In a speech – switching between French and English – The King highlighted the ‘long and complex’ history between Britain and France ‘that has not been ‘entirely straightforward’ with a joke that promoted laughter at the table.
‘I think it was a French King who once said that he would rather be a wood-cutter than the King of England, dealing with our national complexities. As an avid forester, I am pleased to report that it is entirely possible to combine the two! ‘ Charles joked .
He said the postponed visit had been ‘worth the wait’ and he and his wife were ‘both enormously touched by the magnificent welcome that has been extended to us, as had the moving tribute paid by the country on the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
‘Mr. President, among the many profoundly moving gestures here, the flying of the Union flag at the Elysée was particularly poignant’ he said
‘Your words, at that time, meant a great dealt to us too. You said that she had touched your hearts – and it was she who held France in the greatest affection, as, of course, did my grandmother Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.’
He reminisced that his parents’ first official visit together was to France in 1948, shortly after their wedding.
‘By all accounts, they made quite a splash, dancing till the early hours at the glamourous Chez Carrere in the Rue Pierre Charron, serenaded by Edith Piaf,’ he said.
‘I suspect it may have left an indelible impression on me, even six months before I was born – La Vie en Rose is one of my favourite songs to this day!
He described the visit as a symbol of the ‘enduring relationship between our two countries’.
‘The connections between our people are myriad, and represent the lifeblood of our Entente Cordiale, which was inspired by my great great Grandfather, King Edward VII,’ he said.
The extraordinary scene as King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive for last night’s State Banquet at the Palace of Versailles
President Macron puts his hand on the King’s shoulder
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) greets Queen Camilla
King and President clinked champagne flutes at the historic palace west of Paris
Chandeliers donned the room as celebrity guests tucked into a banquet in the Hall of Mirrors
King Charles and Queen Camilla twinned with President and Brigitte Macron in France today as the two couples headed to a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles
Charles delivers a speech as French President Emmanuel Macron listens to during a state dinner in the Hall of Mirrors
Meanwhile, Brigitte and Camilla matched in navy dresses and sparkling accessorises
Mick Jagger joined his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick on the red carpet to attend the State Banquet on the Palace of Versailles
Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of the late handbag muse Jane Birkin looked typically French in a chic black dress with semi opaque tights
Footballing legend Didier Drogba, who played for Marseille before heading to the Premiere League,
Hugh Grant and Anna Elisabet Eberstein arrive at the Palace of Versailles ahead of the State Dinner held in honor of King Charles III and Queen Camilla
FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wegner – who is French but lives in the UK for decades while managing Arsenal – was also in attendance
He also said he was ‘heartened’ to see Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visit Paris earlier this year for the first Franco-British Summit in five years to discuss cooperation including Ukraine, the ‘misery’ of human trafficking, access to energy and a sustainable future.
Toasting the Entente Cordiale, he ended: ‘Whatever lies ahead, may it endure, faithful and constant, for centuries to come.’
Earlier Charles gave Mr Macron a book containing photographs of the pair together, as well as a complete edition of French philosopher Voltaire’s writings, when he visited the Elysee Palace, the president’s official residence.
In return, Mr Macron gave the King a golden coin featuring Charles’s portrait, as well as a prize-winning French novel.
The pair arrived at the Elysee together by car, closely followed by the Queen and the president’s wife Brigitte Macron.
They later planted an oak tree, also a gift from Mr Macron.
During the earlier event, Camilla wore a dusky pink, wool crepe coat-dress by Fiona Clare, and a pink beret-style hat by milliner Philip Treacy.
The couple had landed at Paris Orly airport, where they were greeted with a guard of honour from the Republican Guard, which is part of the French National Gendarmerie.
They then attended a ceremony of remembrance and wreath-laying at the Arc de Triomphe in the centre of the capital.
Charles symbolically lit the monument’s eternal flame, which burns in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars.
It was the first time in 30 years the ceremony has been included in a state visit.
The French and British national anthems were played and there was a flypast by the Patrouille de France and Red Arrows before the couples travelled down the Champs Elysees by car.
The majority of the original royal programme has been retained but a few new elements have been added, including the Queen and Mrs Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
King Charles smiles warmly as he chats to President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on the first day of his state visit
The pair took part in an oak tree planting ceremony to commemorate the visit in the garden of the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris yesterday
Charles will become the first British monarch to give a speech from France’s senate chamber 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 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.
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