King Charles III made history as he became the first British Monarch to address the French Parliament in the official Parliament Hall – his mother had spoken to French Senators in the Conference Room of the Senate.
And so, on 21st September, King Charles III listened attentively as the Presidents of both chambers introduced him, before climbing the steps that brought him to the lectern.
In his roughly 20 minutes address, which he opened with an apology for having “interrupted your pause” (Parliament sessions are not supposed to resume until mid-October), the King spoke firstly about the moving tributes that the French people and authorities have paid to his late mother upon her passing, and of the role she played in shaping the current relations between France and the United Kingdom.
He then went on to talk about the history that made this relation so special: from the Entente Cordiale, on to World War II, and now the common path of the UN and NATO, especially though the lens of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He then switched his focus on the ties being forged, especially in the private sector, by the common fight against climate change and the preservation of biodiversity, a cause that has long been a passion of the King’s. France, for its part, is making its own progress, and just a few days ago, the city of Paris has announced its intentions of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
The King also praised the ties that bind the two people, with many businesses operating in both countries, and many expatriates forming communities in each other’s territories. He talked about artists being inspired by the two nations, and about sports being played according to the rules. He mentioned the Rugby World Cup, which is currently being played in France, saying “no low-blows, and may the best one win”, garnering him the only applause interruption of his speech.
After ending his talk on the need to pass down the currently shared values to the next generations (“As neighbors, friends, partners and allies, there isn’t a challenge that we can’t face, as we have done so often in the past. Let’s move forward with hope and courage – and let’s do it together”), the Senate chamber erupted with applause as everyone stood up in unison, in a tribute that lasted more than a minute and a half – a further reinforcement of the close ties that bind France and the United Kingdom.