Macron rolls out the red carpet for King Charles III

PARIS — Royalty fans in France and beyond are in for a treat as British King Charles III kicks off his long-awaited state visit to Paris on Wednesday to celebrate historic ties and bolster post-Brexit cooperation between France and the U.K.

The three-day visit, which was supposed to be the British monarch’s first foreign trip as king after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, was postponed in March over social unrest in France.

The visit, which takes the British head of state to Paris and Bordeaux, will be redolent of pomp and ceremony, with French President Emmanuel Macron pulling out all the stops to impress his guest.

After landing in Paris on Wednesday, King Charles and Queen Camilla will join Macron and his wife Brigitte and take part in a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, before holding talks at the Elysée Palace. The British monarch will attend a banquet dinner later in the evening at the sumptuous Versailles Palace — a venue long associated with absolute monarchy and the French Revolution in French minds.

The guest list for the banquet includes politicians, business leaders and celebrities including actors Hugh Grant, Charlotte Gainsbourg and football player Didier Drogba.

On Thursday, the British monarch will address lawmakers at the French Senate and visit several landmarks in Paris including renovation works at the Notre-Dame Cathedral as well as a flower market named after Queen Elizabeth II. The king, a fluent French speaker like his mother, is expected to deliver at least a part of his speech in French.

According to an Elysée adviser, the British king and the French president enjoy a relationship of “friendship and trust,” having shared many conversations over the past year.

“They share the same interest in a number of important topics. That is why we have included events on biodiversity and climate in the program. The king also enjoys hearing the president’s analysis of the big international issues,” said the adviser.

While King Charles’ role is largely ceremonial in the U.K., the two heads of state are expected to discuss international affairs, tensions in North Africa, the war in Ukraine and artificial intelligence.

Relations between France and the U.K. have improved greatly under the premiership of Rishi Sunak, after years of bitterness over Brexit talks. France took a hard line during negotiations and Brexiters in the U.K. often blamed the French for their difficulties in leaving the EU.

But an agreement this year resolving trade tensions in Northern Ireland and a Franco-British summit in Paris, which brought together Sunak and Macron, helped reset the relationship.

On Friday, King Charles will head to the port city Bordeaux where he will visit Britain’s HMS Iron Duke, along with an organic vineyard and an urban forest.

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