Today marked the first overseas State Visit for King Charles and Queen Camilla since their Coronation in May, and the second of their reign.
The couple were visiting visit France, after having to postpone their original trip to the country in March due to the protests at the time over pension reforms.
Ahead of landing in France, a message was issued on the Royal Family’s social media channels from Their Majesties. In the message, The King and Queen noted that they ‘are so looking forward to joining you in Paris and Bordeaux’, as they embark on their first State Visit to France, which is ‘a country for which we both have the greatest love and admiration’.
‘We will celebrate the special bond between our two countries and all that your wonderful country has to offer. À bientôt France!’
The Royals landed at shortly after 1pm UK time, where they were greeted by French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, as well as UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
Camilla was wearing a pink coat dress by Fiona Clare with a beret-style hat by Philip Treacy.
Their Majesties The King and Queen have arrived in Paris for their first State Visit to France since His Majesty’s Accession. 🇫🇷
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 20, 2023
The King and Queen then headed to the iconic Arc de Triomphe in the centre of Paris, where they met French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron.
Following the English and France National Anthems, The King and President inspected a guard of honour before heading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc.
A wreath was laid from both Charles and Macron. The King then relit the eternal flame for France on behalf of the UK, which burns in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars.
The Red Arrows and their French equivalent, the Patrouille de France, then flew over central Paris, with the famous blue, white and red smoke disappearing down the Champs-Élysées.
After meeting dignitaries under the Arc, The King and President inspected the military parade and signed their names to commemorate the event.
Their next engagement saw Their Majesties join The President and his wife at the Elysée Palace where a formal audience took place. Here, His Majesty presented Macron with an album containing images of the pair, and a complete edition of French author Voltaire’s writings as part of the traditional diplomatic gift-giving.
In return, President Macron gave The King a golden coin from the Monnaie de Paris – the equivalent of the Royal Mint – featuring Charles’s portrait and a first-edition prize-winning French novel, Les Racines (The Roots of Heaven).
On the evening of their first day in France, a State Banquet was hosted to mark the visit at the Palace of Versailles.
The white tie event saw King Charles in a bow tie and Queen Camilla in a dark blue evening gown with cape by French fashion house, Dior. She also wore jewellery that belonged to her late mother in law, Elizabeth II, from the George VI sapphire suite or parure.
Well known faces from French and British society and culture were at the event, including Mick Jagger, Hugh Grant, Yves de Gaulle, and Didier Drogba.
During his speech, His Majesty said: ‘Your generosity of spirit brings to mind how my family and I were so greatly moved by the tributes paid in France to my mother, the late Queen, whose funeral took place one year ago yesterday.
‘Mr. President, among the many profoundly moving gestures here, the flying of the Union flag at the Elysée was particularly poignant. Your words, at that time, meant a great deal 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.’
Charles jokingly said in his speech: ‘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!’
He also spoke about his parents’ first official visit to France where they ‘made quite a splash, dancing til the early hours at the glamorous Chez Carrere in the Rue Pierre Charron, serenaded by Edith Piaf’.
‘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!’
Concluding his speech, he said: ‘Whatever lies ahead, may it endure, faithful and constant, for centuries to come.’
Tonight’s menu for the State Banquet featured blue lobster and pot crab with a veil of fresh almonds and peppermint to start, followed by bresse chicken with corn and a porcini mushroom gratin. A cheese course of 30-month-old Comté, and Stichelton English blue were served, with a dessert of Isfahan Persian macaroon.
The gourmet dishes were cooked by a selection of top chefs, including Anne-Sophie Pic, who is the only French chef with three Michelin stars.
For drinks, guests enjoyed wines costing over £400 a bottle, including Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 2013 Champagne.
Over the remaining couple of days of the State Visit, Their Majesties will continue to undertake engagements in Paris and Bordeaux.