King Charles III pleaded Thursday for a reinforced Franco-British commitment on the climate on the second day of his state visit to France, on the eve of a final stop in Bordeaux (southwest), a region hard hit by fires in 2022.
After a very formal first day marked by a sumptuous state dinner at Versailles on Wednesday, the sovereign, with strong environmental convictions, pleaded before the Senate on Thursday for a new “Agreement” between Paris and London on the climate.
These comments come the day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to postpone several key measures of the United Kingdom’s climate policy.
The king’s speech, delivered in French and English in front of some 300 French parliamentarians, and received a long standing ovation, was a first for a British sovereign. In 2004, his mother Elizabeth II gave a speech in the Senate Conference Room, in front of assembled deputies and senators, but not in the hemicycle.
After a visit to the Flower Market, in the historic heart of Paris, the royal couple joined the Macron couple on the square in front of Notre-Dame de Paris to meet Paris firefighters and the restoration team of the cathedral ravaged by a gigantic fire in 2019, which is due to reopen in December 2024.
Before a final interview at the Élysée in the evening, the king appeared alongside Emmanuel Macron at the end of a round table at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, devoted to “climate finance”, products green financiers.
The French president praised, in a speech in English, Charles III’s “very clear vision” of the “link between climate change, biodiversity and poverty”, the two men standing side by side in the Grand Gallery of Evolution, in front of a giraffe from his prodigious collection of stuffed animals.
According to consistent sources, Charles III is expected to meet Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s leading fortunes and boss of the luxury empire LVMH.
Support for Ukraine
On the diplomatic front, the king, who intends to establish his international image a year after his accession to the throne, assured the Senate of the “unshakeable determination” of the United Kingdom and France to see Ukraine “ triumph.”
Charles III also pledged to French parliamentarians on Thursday to “do everything in (his) power to strengthen the essential relationship between the United Kingdom and France”.
During the king’s speech to the Senate, Queen Camilla and Brigitte Macron launched a Franco-British literary prize at the National Library. The French First Lady presented Charles III’s wife with a dress by Edith Piaf, as well as manuscripts by William Shakespeare and Victor Hugo. They also visited a Chanel workshop on Thursday, where the queen tried her hand at a loom.
This three-day visit to France, the first since the monarch’s coronation, should have taken place in March but was canceled due to demonstrations in France against pension reform.
PSG jersey and ping-pong
The royal couple also went to the north of the French capital, to Saint-Denis, a deprived suburb but also the nerve center of the 2024 Olympic Games and the location of the necropolis of the kings of France, in the Gothic basilica that the king and the queen took the time to visit.
Accompanied by Ms. Macron, the king and queen spoke with French international Presnel Kimpembe and PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, who presented Charles III with a club jersey in his name. Relaxed, Brigitte Macron and Queen Camilla played a game of ping-pong.
On Friday, the royal couple will travel to Bordeaux, for the third and final day of this state visit, to a region of southwest France hit hard by fires in 2022, which has many British residents.
There, with Queen Camilla, he will visit the frigate HMS Iron Duke, a Royal Navy ship, but also an experimental forest in Floirac, before ending with a visit to the Château Smith Haut Lafitte wine estate.