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Dutch Royals Pay a state visit to France

By invitation of President François Hollande, His Majesty, King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands will pay a state visit to France on Thursday, 10 March and Friday, 11 March 2016. Their Majesties will be accompanied by Bert Koenders, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This visit will help build on bilateral relations between the two countries. President Hollande inniciated this interaction with his official visit to the Netherlands in January 2014. The 2-day state visit will focus on deepening economic, cultural and European ties. It will emphasise the shared values of freedom and equality and the past shared by France and the Netherlands.

Thursday morning will see the welcome ceremony take place at the Arc de Triomphe. The King will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where then both he and the Queen will sign the Livre d’Or. President Hollande will then receive them at Élysée Palace.

The three will then visit the Louvre Museum to observe Rembrandt’s wedding portraits of Maerten Soolmans en Oopjen Coppit. These portraits were purchased jointly by both governments to be shared with an international audience. They alternate between the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

A reception for the Dutch community living in France will be held in the afternoon at the Hôtel Potocki. They will next meet the President of the Senate in the Petit Luxembourg and the President of the National Assembly at the Hôtel de Lassay.

In the late afternoon, the King and Queen will head to the Halle Pajol, where they will participate in a discussion with young people about tolerance, freedom and equality. The young people present have participated in educational projects organised by the Anne Frank Foundation. Lilian Thuram, former football player and founder of the Thuram Foundation will moderate the meeting. His foundation works to promote tolerance.

The final event for Thursday will be a state banquet hosted by President Hollande at the Élysée Palace. Here, both heads of state will deliver a speech.

On Friday morning, the Royals will meet Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris. Both the Mayor and the King will give a speech at the Hôtel de Ville. They will also discuss Dutch links with Paris.

Paris is aggressively striving to combat air pollution. The city is investing in a sustainable method of urban transport – electric busses. Paris has purchased electric busses from the Dutch company, Ebusco. The King and Queen will be given a ride on one of these busses while learning of some of the sustainable transport efforts being made on the city’s behalf.

In Les Docks, the Royals will attend the Strategic Business Dialogue between French and Dutch CEOs. It will be chaired by Hans de Boer, president of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW), and Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, vice-president of the French employers’ organisation MEDEF. The major focus of the meeting is cooperation within innovation and sustainability.

After this event, the King and Queen will observe an innovation parade. It will focus on partnerships between Dutch and French businesses in areas of business such as aircraft construction, seed improvement, food innovation and serious gaming. To close out the parade, the King and Queen will witness the signing of several MoUs concerning matters regarding aerospace, smart cities, transport and the establishment of a Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO) in Nantes.

Come the afternoon, the King and Queen will pay a visit to NUMA, an incubator where new entrepreneurs have the opportunity to expand their businesses. Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, will join the Royals. The King and Queen will learn of the Data city Project, an initiative where products and services for creating smart cities might be developed.

They will next attend the final session of a fashion master class at the Atelier Néerlandais for talented French and Dutch designers. Regarding the Dutch EU Presidency, a symposium will be held on peace and security. Their Majesties will view the closing session in the Salon de l’Horloge at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Dutch Foreign Minister Mr Koenders and French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault will both present speeches to all students and honoured guests.

In the evening, the state visit will close with Their Majesties hosting a concert and reception at the Petit Palais as their way of thanking President Hollande for his hospitality. Soprano Lenneke Ruiten will be the featured performer. She will be accompanied by pianist Thom Janssen and the Ruysdael Quartet.

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