Published: 2023-09-21 09:34
Last Updated: 2024-03-01 19:13
King Charles III Wednesday issued a call for France and the UK to reinvigorate their relations, as President Emmanuel Macron hosted the British monarch for a glittering banquet at the Palace of Versailles on the first of a three-day state visit.
The visit, which was rescheduled from March due to the violent protests against pension reform that rocked France at the time, aims to showcase Charles' stature as a statesman just over a year after the death of his mother and predecessor Queen Elizabeth II.
But it also gives both sides a chance to show that the almost 120-year-old Entente Cordiale remains alive and well, despite the sometimes bitter tensions created by Britain's exit from the EU.
Guests at the dinner included luminaries ranging from the British rock legend Mick Jagger, the French former manager of the Arsenal football team Arsene Wenger, actor Hugh Grant and the French luxury goods billionaire Bernard Arnault
It is "incumbent upon us all to reinvigorate our friendship to ensure it is fit for the challenge of this, the 21st century," Charles said in a toast.
Although Charles did not directly reference the UK's divisive departure from the European Union, he mentioned the two countries' "long and complex history".
"Our relations have of course not always been entirely straightforward," he added, in a speech in both English and an accented but clearly-spoken French that impressed his hosts.
But he set out an optimistic vision of the Entente Cordiale, the pact between the two neighbours which was forged in 1904, calling it a "sustainable alliance".