King and Queen’s Royal Visit to France Highlights Strong Bilateral Ties Amid Brexit Tensions


With pomp and ceremony in abundance, and security measures enveloping the air, the King and Queen’s official visit to France commenced on a splendid Wednesday afternoon in Paris. The Arc de Triomphe, displaying a flypast radiating French national colours, served as the initial phase of this diplomatic spectacle, with France’s President Emmanuel Macron putting on an extravagant show for his esteemed royal guests.

Among the most prominent figures was rock legend Mick Jagger, offering a hearty “bon soir” as he made his grand entrance into the Palace of Versailles for an opulent state banquet. Sporting her blue Dior cape, Queen Camilla gracefully took her position on the Versailles red carpet. Joining her, the King and President Macron engaged in superficial conversation for the roving camera lenses. Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal boss, appeared to be the unexpected final guest, looking slightly bewildered on the red carpet, likened to an off-position goalkeeper.

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Yet, underneath the meticulously directed pageantry and celebrity appearances lay a deeper, graver purpose. A state visit presents a unique blend of public relations and politics. The core goal of such a visit is to visibly strengthen key alliances – in this particular case, between Britain and France. Over the upcoming days, a catalogue of shared interests will be meticulously attended to. These areas encompass trade, environmental concerns, culture and defence.

A delightfully extravagant banquet served to seal this alliance – starting with exquisite blue lobster, and cheeses carefully selected from both Britain and France, offering a true taste of unity. Honouring the occasion, the King delivered a heartwarming toast. His speech, given in both French and English, brought back nostalgic memories from when his mother graced the city of Paris as a young newly-wed in 1948. The recollection of her being serenaded by the legendary Edith Piaf stirred resonating emotions within him.

The context behind such a gathering, a fact made evident by French newspapers, was to nourish the bilateral relationship that likely had been tested by Brexit. A recent poll conducted in tandem with the state visit, however, revealed an optimistic portrait of British and French public sentiment towards one another. The poll, carried out by Portland Communications, surveyed over 2,000 people. It revealed that 72% of British and 76% of French respondents held a belief that while their nations might occasionally clash, they remain “natural friends and close allies” in the end.

Significant differences were noted in terms of attitudes towards monarchy, law enforcement, and even culinary preferences. The final observation of Portland Communications’ survey indicated that the majority believed the King would have voted to remain in the EU during the Brexit referendum.

Understandably, in the backdrop of such high-profile events, security remains paramount. The roads of Paris echoed with the rhymes of security rather than liberty, equality, or fraternity. Opportunities for the French crowd to interact with the royals were scarce. The Arc de Triomphe teemed with soldiers, police, and legions of media personnel, with restrictions leaving ordinary Parisians at quite a distance.

The stately distance was also maintained in Versailles, with a clear divide between the banquet attendees and common folk — a gesture that appeared to be a nod to Sun King Louis XIV’s tastes. This was just the first day of a three-day royal visit, with the King set to address the Senate and observe eco-projects in Bordeaux. The two heads of state will surely seize more such photo opportunities, providing a taste of their nations’ entente cordiale.