Royal Visit Strengthens British-French Ties Amid Grandeur and Diplomacy

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In the chilly, early Wednesday afternoon, the city of Paris played host to royal guests, when the King accompanied by President Emmanuel Macron commenced a spectacular ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, in what marked the beginning of a ceremonious state visit. As thousands looked on, the King and the Queen graced their French counterparts with their presence against a backdrop of a dramatic flypast casting vibrant colors of the French flag.

Adding global allure to the event, the renowned rock icon Mick Jagger made a grand entry at the Palace of Versailles, echoing a friendly “bon soir” to signal the start of a grand state banquet. At the same occasion, the statuesque Queen Camilla elegantly assumed her place on the Versailles red carpet, beautifully adorned in a blue Dior cape. As she did so, the King and President Macron were seen engaging in casual pleasantries as they paused for photographs.

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Further star power was added by the unexpected presence of the former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, his disoriented demeanor on the red carpet reminiscent of a misplaced goalkeeper on the pitch.

Beneath the pageantry and aplomb, however, was a far-reaching purpose. These elaborate state visits are carefully choreographed events, weighted equally in public relations and political strategy. Their unspoken intent always to reinforce key alliances, and in this instance, between Britain and France. High on their agenda over the coming days would be much roundtable discussion on shared concerns, namely trade, environment, culture, and defence.

The denizens of royal and political spheres raised a toast during a lavish feast, marking a display of culinary diplomacy with a menu carefully crafted to represent both nations – a delightful blue lobster to start and carefully-selected cheeses of British and French origin – confirming the importance of this political as well as culinary alliance.

The King gave an inspiring speech, switching seamlessly between French and English, evoking a memory of his mother’s younger days when she had been serenaded by the legendary Edith Piaf during her newly-wed visit in 1948, thus reinforcing the centuries-old ties between the two nations.

The underlying aim of such an elaborate, public display of friendship was, however, to assuage any strain that may have surfaced as a result of Brexit. Concurring with the warming of bilateral ties was a recent survey released by Portland Communications revealing a mutual fondness between the British and French people.

The survey, which polled over 2000 people, resulted in 72% of Brits and 76% of French population still seeing each other as “natural friends and close allies”, albeit their timeless “squabbles”. Interestingly, it also revealed a quarter of both nations exhibiting preference for the other’s form of governance; French favouring monarchy, and Brits veering towards republic.

The three-day visit, which sported no shortage of security, allowed little opportunity for the French public to interact with their British guests; with ordinary Parisians at both the Arc de Triomphe and Versailles kept securely distanced. Nevertheless, the diplomatic pursuit continues with the King set to address the Senate and visit eco-projects in Bordeaux in the subsequent days, ensuring many more photo opportunities that herald the timeless friendship between the two states.