The King addressed politicians in French and vowed to 'strengthen the essential relationship between the UK and France' as Royal Editor Chris Ship reports
On the anniversary of the day that France abolished its monarchy and became a republic, the French state invited the Monarch from neighbouring Britain into the upper house of its national Parliament.
King Charles was told it was “a great honour” and an “historic moment” for senators that he becomes the first British Monarch to address politicians in the Senate chamber.
He told the packed chamber on Thursday that "the United Kingdom will always be one of France’s closest allies and best friends."
The two countries should cherish and nurture the 'entente cordiale,' he said, and Charles pledged, in “the time that is granted to me as King” to do “whatever I can to strengthen the indispensable relationship between the United Kingdom and France.”
Yet again, the speech was largely in French with select passages in English.
He was given a standing ovation from senators as he arrived in the chamber and another one after his speech.
Despite the announcement from the British government on Wednesday to water down some of its targets to cut carbon emissions, the King - a long-time advocate for the environment - told his French hosts that we should “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.”
Royal Editor Chris Ship was live in Paris after King's address
He said the challenge facing the planet is “both great and grave” and this afternoon, he will travel with the French President Emmanuel Macron to a meeting of British and French businesses that are investing in clean technology and protecting biodiversity.
The King must, by convention, stay out of day to day politics, but given everything he has said about the environment as Prince Charles in the past four decades, we can only assume his next private audience with his Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be an interesting one.
In the French Senate, however, the King’s 40 years of campaigning on the environment and biodiversity was recognised both in the chamber and outside it.
Inside, King Charles was told how French parliamentarians acknowledge his “personal investment” in green issues “since your youth”.
Outside, he was presented with honey from the bee hives in the gardens of the Palace of Luxembourg in which the French Senate is housed.
The Palace was once a royal residence and as the President of the Assembly National, Yael Braun-Pivet told him that it was “the English who provoked the French Revolution” and France got rid of its Monarchy because its own Royal Family decided not to adopt the British parliamentary system.
“France adopted another system,” Mme Braun-Pivet said, “the Republic was thus born on 21st September, 231 years ago today!”
All the speeches spoke of the historic ties between France and the UK and the solidarity each country showed during the Second World War.
And the King spoke of his mother and explained how touched he had been, a year ago, to read tributes from French senators who said of the late Queen: “She loved France and France loved her”.
“I can hardly describe how much these words meant to me, and to my entire family,” the King said, in French.
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