Exclusive-France's Macron to host King Charles in first visit abroad as monarch

  • World
  • Friday, 03 Mar 2023

FILE PHOTO: King Charles waves during a visit to Micklegate bar in York, Britain November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - King Charles will travel to France on March 26-29 for his first state visit as Britain's monarch, the French presidency said on Friday, in a further sign of warming relations between Paris and London after years of bad blood over Brexit.

The visit, which will feature a state dinner for Charles and Queen Consort Camilla at the Palace of Versailles, is a diplomatic coup for President Emmanuel Macron, who has sought to reset Franco-British relations after a series of disputes.

The visit "is an honour for France and illustrates the depth of the historical links uniting our two countries," Macron's office said in a statement, also citing previous collaboration between the two men "on issues of protecting biodiversity and the fight against climate change."

Charles' visit will come hard on the heels of one by his Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is due to meet Macron in Paris on March 10 for the first Franco-British summit since 2018, before relations unravelled.

Macron's hardball tactics during the talks to negotiate Britain's departure from the European Union, which became official in February 2020, had prompted angry outbursts by former prime minister Boris Johnson and vitriol in UK tabloids.

Britain's role in negotiating a security pact between the United States and Australia, torpedoing a multi-billion submarine deal the French had negotiated with Canberra, left Macron seething and brought relations to a new low.

When former British prime minister Liz Truss was asked last year if Macron was a friend or a foe, she replied: "the jury's out".

But French officials have been keen to keep Britain in Europe's orbit after Brexit and Macron went out of his way to include Britain in the launch of his European Political Community initiative in Prague last October.

His glowing tribute to Queen Elizabeth after she died last year was particularly appreciated by Britons and the monarch, British officials told Reuters, and played a role in persuading Buckingham Palace to make Macron the first foreign leader to host Charles.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by John Stonestreet)

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