'She loved France, France loved her': Emotional Charles remembers Queen's 'golden bond' with France in historic address

21 September 2023, 10:59 | Updated: 21 September 2023, 12:50

King Charles made a historic address to the French Senate
King Charles made a historic address to the French Senate. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

King Charles has told the French Senate that he was "moved beyond measure" by the tributes to his late mother the Queen before receiving a standing ovation for his speech.

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The monarch, who became the first British king to speak to the French Parliament's upper house, told legislators there was an "enduring friendship [between] our nations and our people".

Charles said: "When my mother died almost one year ago my family and I were moved beyond measure by the tributes paid to her across France".

"You described Her late Majesty as having embodied the dignity of our own democracy and that as 'she loved France, France loved her'. I can hardly describe how much these words meant to me, and to my entire family."

Read more: Charles and Camilla join Macrons and A-list stars at Palace of Versailles banquet with luxury champagne-soaked chicken

Speaking in French, he told them France is one of the UK's "closest allies and best friends".

The royal dipped in and out of French and English throughout his speech as he discussed how Britain and France stood side-by-side in the Second World War.

Charles was the first British monarch to speak to the French Senate
Charles was the first British monarch to speak to the French Senate. Picture: Alamy

"Together we are steadfast in our determination Ukraine will triumph and that our cherished freedoms will prevail," he said as he talked about the need to stand against "unprovoked aggression on our continent".

He said the nations needed to confront global warming and the destruction of nature.

Read more: Red white and bleu: French and British planes fly overhead as King Charles begins three-day visit to France

"Just as we stand together against military aggression, so must we strive together to protect the world from our most existential challenge of all - that of global warming, climate change and the catastrophic destruction of nature.

"Jacques-Yves Cousteau said so wisely: 'For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realise that, in order to survive, he must protect it'.

King Charles spoke of Britain and France's friendship
King Charles spoke of Britain and France's friendship. Picture: Alamy

"Such wisdom is even more relevant in this, the 21st century."

He concluded by saying: "There is no challenge to which we cannot rise as we have done so often in the past. Let us stride forward with hope and courage, and let us do so together," he said to a standing ovation from the lawmakers that lasted well over a minute.

The speech came after he visited the Arc de Triomphe with President Emmanuel Macron, taking in a fly over, and then had dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

He is due to visit a flower market named for his mother before meeting Macron again at the Notre Dame Cathedral, where he will inspect renovations that could see the church open by the end of 2024 following the fire.

They arrived at the red carpet alongside president Macron and his wife Brigitte on Wednesday evening for the lavish banquet they were made guest of honours of.

A number of other guests also made an appearance on the red carpet, including Mick Jagger, Hugh Grant and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

"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," King Charles told the French president at the banquet.

Charles, on his 35th visit to the country, will then visit Bordeaux on Friday.

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