King and Queen visit France amid hopes of strengthening post-Brexit relations with UK

The Paris and Bordeaux trip has been rescheduled from the Spring, when it was cancelled at the last moment due to protests across the country, ITV News' Royal Editor Chris Ship reports from France

King Charles and Queen Camilla embark on a State Visit to France on Wednesday, just a day after Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer was in Paris speaking to the French President.

The King and Queen will also meet Emanuel Macron on their three day visit here, and British diplomats hope the royals will help to bring the two countries closer together after years of acrimonious relations following Brexit.

This trip to Paris and Bordeaux has been rescheduled from the Spring, when it was cancelled at the last moment as protestors across France set fire to buildings and cars in their protests over a rise in the state pension age.

A guard of honour welcomed Charles and Camilla Credit: Tim Rooke/PA

At one point, the Town Hall in Bordeaux, which the King and Queen were due to visit, was set alight and the whole trip was postponed just days before it was scheduled to get underway.

This rearranged visit replicates most of the engagements the King and Queen had planned to make in March but there are new additions to the itinerary to reflect France’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup.

British diplomats hope the royal visitors will be able to restore the strength of the Anglo-French ties - which came under such strain during the premierships of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Earlier this year, Rishi Sunak struck a more positive tone during a summit with Monsieur Macron and the King and Queen, experts in portraying Britain’s soft diplomatic power, hope to show the French people that the UK remains a friendly neighbour, despite exiting from the European Union.

To that end, the King will speak largely in French when he addresses the French Senate on Thursday.

In return, Charles and Camilla have been afforded a welcome at the Arc de Triomphe, very rare for a State Visit, and a drive along Paris’ Champs-Elysées with the French President at the start of their tour.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Britain's King Charles III discuss under the Arc de Triomhe. Credit: AP
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, right, welcomes the King and Queen to Paris Credit: Tim Rooke/PA

The King, whilst being prevented from entering the political fray, will hold a bilateral meeting with M. Macron at the Elysée Palace.

During Wednesday night’s State Banquet at the Palace of Versailles, King Charles may wish to refrain from thinking too much about what happened to France’s last king, Louis XVI.

He was forced to leave Versailles during the French Revolution in 1789 and died at the guillotine just a couple of years later.

King Charles is likely to leave Versailles in very different circumstances, and will tell his French hosts - in French - about the strong bonds which connect the two countries.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive at a ceremonial welcome at the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France, at the start of the State Visit. . Credit: PA

Senators and members of France’s National Assembly will gather to hear the King’s speech on Thursday.

Before the visit ends, the King and Queen will travel to Bordeaux to visit an organic vineyard and celebrate the city’s connections with the UK.

Many of the Britons who live in France have settled in the south west of the country.

Foreign Office officials say a similar State Visit by the King and Queen to Germany earlier this year is already paying dividends in terms of economic and political collaboration and they have high hopes this royal visit to France will do the same.

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