The last State Visit by a British Monarch to France was almost a decade ago, when Queen Elizabeth II traveled to Paris and Normandy, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Now it was her son, King Charles III, who made the trip, and it has been filled of memories of his late, beloved mother.
Queen Elizabeth II was remembered in His Majesty’s visit to the French Senate, both in the speeches by the Presidents of the two chambers and in the speech given by the King himself.
In his words, he thanked the French people for their outpouring of support during “such a sad moment”, as well as remembering with evident fondness the letters written to him by French authorities, which described his mother as someone who “incarnated with dignity the solidity of British democracy”, as “the golden thread the binds our nations”, and adding that “she loved France, France loved her”.
His Majesty concluded his homage by describing his mother’s example as a guiding light in the relation between the two nations: “In the rich and complex tapestry that is the relation between France and the United Kingdom, the golden thread that my mother represented will always shine. I wish that she will keep inspiring us to continue weaving ties among our two countries with determination, with hope and with love”.
Those words echoed those that His Majesty pronounced just a few hours earlier, during his toast at the State Dinner in Versailles: “Your generosity of spirit brings to mind how my family and I were so greatly moved by the tributes paid in France to my Mother, The late Queen, whose funeral took place one year ago yesterday. Mr. President, among the many profoundly moving gestures here, the flying of the Union flag at the Elysée was particularly poignant. Your words, at that time, meant a great dealt to us too. You said that she had touched your hearts – and it was she who held France in the greatest affection”.
Her Lte Majesty was a presence also in the course of the afternoon, when King Charles and Queen Camilla reunited to visit “The flower market of Queen Elizabeth II”, which got its new name (it was previously known as Marché aux Fleurs) in 2014, after the late Queen went back for a third tour of it.
As Buckingham Palace pointed out in a tweet, her first visit to the market also included the current King: it was back in 1948, when she visited as Princess Elizabeth, and was roughly three months pregnant with her first child.
Florists operating the stalls inside the market also added to the tributes to the King’s mother, by gifting King Charles mementos and souvenirs from her previous visits, including a laminated picture that one of the florists took in 2014, with a message on the back that paid tribute to the significance of Queen Elizabeth for him, and a wish of “health and happiness” for the new King.
This State Visit to France comes just days after the first anniversary of the late Queen’s funeral, and the tributes to her importance, both as an iconic figure and as a head of state, keep pouring in, highlighting that “her golden thread will always shine”.