After arriving by train in Paris yesterday evening, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa officially started their state visit to France today – the biggest state visit in Luxembourg’s history. Indeed, it is reported that in addition to the Grand Ducal Couple and members of the government, more than 200 Luxembourg officials will take part in this state visit.
They first attended an official welcome ceremony at the Invalides with the French Minister for European Affairs. National hymns were played, and Grand Duke Henri reviewed the French Guard of Honour composed of the four forces – the Republican Guard, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
Afterwards, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess were received by the French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron at the Elysée Palace. After posing for the traditional official photographs, the two couples had time to talk for an hour privately.
It is not the first time that the French Presidential Couple and the Grand Ducal Couple have met. Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa received Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron for an official visit in Luxembourg back in August 2017, and it was revealed by the Elysée Palace that the French First Lady and Grand Duchess Marie Teresa had privately met twice in Paris during the summer and once again last January to talk about their common interests.
The Grand Ducal Couple and the delegation had lunch at Hôtel Shangri-La – where Grand Duke Henri made a speech before taking part in the economic forum ‘France-Luxembourg: More than neighbours’. The forum aimed to allow Luxembourgish companies to start discussions with French companies to allow better cooperations.
France and Luxembourg share a border, and there are a lot of French and Luxembourgish companies with workers from each side of the border. A lot of these workers are not living in the country they work, or they only live there partially which often causes issues regarding fiscality. France and Luxembourg have been working on several agreements to solve these issues, and all of them will be officially signed by the members of both governments in Paris tomorrow.
Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa also met François de Rugy, the Speaker of the National Assembly, a traditional meeting during all state visits.
In the evening, an official state dinner took place at the Elysée Palace to conclude the first day of the state visit. The visit will continue tomorrow in Paris and will end in Toulouse on Wednesday.
Despite France and Luxembourg’s close links, this state visit – centred on the countries’ economic interests- is the first in 40 years. Indeed, the last state visit took place in 1978 when French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and his wife, Anne-Aymone received Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.