Charles III pleads before the Senate for a new “Entente Cordiale” on the climate and praises the Franco-British relationship

For his visit to France, King Charles III gave a speech in French and English in the Senate chamber in front of some 300 parliamentarians on Thursday September 21

Charles III pleads before the Senate for a new “Entente Cordiale” on the climate and praises the Franco-British relationship

For his visit to France, King Charles III gave a speech in French and English in the Senate chamber in front of some 300 parliamentarians on Thursday September 21. A first for a British sovereign: in 2004, his mother Elizabeth II gave a speech in front of assembled deputies and senators, but in the Conference Room of the Senate.

King Charles III, with strong environmental convictions, proposed that France and the United Kingdom commit to a new “Entente Cordiale” on the climate, in reference to the text signed between the United Kingdom and France in 1904 to resolve strong differences. He hopes that this partnership will be a more effective response to “the global climate and biodiversity emergency”.

These royal declarations come as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday the postponement of several flagship measures of the United Kingdom's climate policy. “On this major issue, on this great question of the millennium” which is the environment, “Marianne and Britannia will remain two sisters”, assured in the introduction the President of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet.

Charles III is determined that Ukraine will triumph

On the diplomatic front, the king, who intends to establish his international image a year after his accession to the throne, assured Thursday of the “unshakeable determination” of Paris and London to see Ukraine “triumph” in the war which opposes it to Russia. The king also pledged to “do everything in [his] power to strengthen the essential relationship between the United Kingdom and France”, before French parliamentarians.

Beyond the question of the war in Ukraine which unites them, Charles III reaffirmed the links which unite the two countries separated by the Channel. “As always, it is our people who are the real driving force behind our relationship. (…) Our friendship and warm ties strengthen with each new contact between us. » A visit and a speech – approved by 10 Downing Street – which comes as the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and Emmanuel Macron have undertaken in recent months a warming of diplomatic ties, after several years of disputes, in particular linked to Brexit.

The sovereign's speech received a standing ovation for several minutes, but his state visit is not welcomed by all political parties. “September 21 is not a day to listen to a king. It is the one during which we celebrate the anniversary of the Republic", wrote, before the speech, on the Convention on September 21, 1792. The Communist Party only sent one senator to this speech, the president of the France-United Kingdom interparliamentary friendship group, Eric Bocquet. Also offended, the CGT union of parliamentary collaborators regretted having been asked to remain confined in the offices during the royal visit, an “intolerable infantilization” according to them.

The day before, a state dinner at Versailles

During the king's speech to the Senate, Queen Camilla and Brigitte Macron launched a Franco-British literary prize at the National Library. Ms Macron presented the Queen 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.

After a visit to the Elizabeth II flower market on the Île de la Cité, 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, the first reopening of which is planned for December 2024. Then the king must speak at the end of a round table at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, devoted to “climate finance”, i.e. the actions carried out by banks in the face of climate change.

On Wednesday evening, Charles III was received by Emmanuel Macron for a sumptuous dinner at the Palace of Versailles, under the sign of Franco-British friendship after the turbulence of Brexit. This three-day visit to France, the first since the monarch's coronation, "is a sign of friendship and trust", seen "as a tribute to our past, and as a guarantee of the future", the French president said in opening of the meal.

A reception criticized for its splendor within France Insoumise (LFI). “It is not indecent to receive the king, it is indecent in form,” said the LFI deputy for Essonne, Antoine Léaument, on RMC, like Manuel Bompard, coordinator of the party, for which “it’s normal, we don’t welcome a king every day. But in the current social context, a little sobriety would not have hurt,” he said on Franceinfo.