King Charles III's visit to France will include a state dinner at Versailles and a stop in Bordeaux
LONDON -- King Charles III will travel to France later this month for a state visit that was postponed in March due to fears that protesters demonstrating against President Emanuel Macron's economic policies would disrupt the pageantry.
Charles and Queen Camilla will visit Paris and Bordeaux from Sept. 20-22, Buckingham Palace announced Wednesday. The visit underscores Britain's aim to bolster ties with its closest European neighbor after years of sometimes prickly relations strained by Brexit and disagreements over the growing number of migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats.
"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.
While Britain's royal family long ago ceded political power to the country's elected leaders, they remain the U.K.'s preeminent ambassadors as presidents and prime ministers jockey to bask in the glamour and pageantry that follows them wherever they go.
This role was epitomized by Queen Elizabeth II, who made 121 state visits during her 70-year reign, leading royal historian Robert Hardman to dub her "Queen of the World." Charles ascended the throne after his mother died last September.
The new king 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. That honor went to Germany when the Charles canceled the first leg of a planned two-nation European tour when protests over Macron's plans to raise the retirement age devolved into riots.
But 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, Charles will meet with members of the National Assembly and Senate, providing a new venue for the king to show off his 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.
The trip will also include a black tie state dinner at the Palace of Versailles and a stop in Bordeaux, home to a large British community. 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.
They will also meet with community sports groups as France hosts the Rugby World Cup, which runs from Sept. 8-Oct. 28.