Highlights: King Charles speaks on Ukraine, climate, in French Senate address

September 21, 2023 - 6:28 PM
Britain's King Charles delivers a speech to members of parliament at the French Senate in Paris, on the second day of his State visit to France, September 21, 2023. (Reuters/Benoit Tessier)

PARIS — King Charles underscored the importance of the relationship between Britain and France on the second day of a state visit to France, which both nations hope will help turn the page on years of tensions since Britain’s 2020 exit from the European Union.

Addressing French lawmakers, he stressed on Thursday that the two countries had a shared responsibility on Ukraine and climate change, calling for an extension of the “entente cordiale” of the early 20th century that smoothed over diplomatic relations between the European powerhouses.

Here’s the latest:

  • King Charles received a standing ovation following his speech, the first by a British monarch to representatives of both houses of the French parliament. 
  • Charles spoke in flawless French, turning to English only for short parts of the speech.
  • On foreign policy, he said: “Together we are unwavering in our determination that Ukraine will triumph.”
  • On joint responsibility: “Together our potential is limitless. This is why we must cherish and maintain our ‘entente cordiale’ for future generations so that it also becomes an ‘entente’ for sustainability to respond more effectively to the global emergency in terms of climate and biodiversity.”
  • About his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth: “When my mother died last year, my family and I were moved, beyond measure, by the tributes paid to her throughout France.”
  • French politicians took their phones out to snap pictures of Charles at the start of speech.
  • “The United Kingdom will always be one of France’s closest allies and one of its best friends,” Charles said. “My belief in the indispensable relationship between our countries is as firm as it has ever been.”
  • Later in the day, Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, will visit a central Paris flower market named after Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth.
  • Charles and Camilla will then visit the restoration works at Notre-Dame cathedral, which was ravaged by a fire in 2019.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron and Charles have shared correspondence and insight on the restoration of the cathedral.
  • The visit has been covered extensively by the media in France, while pictures of the visit appeared on the front page of nearly all Britain’s national newspapers, heralding a new “Entente Cordiale” between the two nations.
  • On the first day of his visit, on Wednesday, Charles said in a toast at a state banquet in the palace of Versailles that: “We must reinvigorate our friendship so that it is up to the challenges of the 21st century.”
  • In his own toast, Macron said: “Despite Brexit and because our ties are so old, I know that we will continue to write together part of our continent’s history.”

Charles had meant for his first state visit abroad as king to be to France, but a trip planned for March was canceled due to tense French protests over pension reforms, much to Macron’s embarrassment.

– Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Ingrid Melander, Elizabeth Pineau, Michel Rose, Johnny Cotton, Michael Holden, Blandine Henault; Compiled by Ingrid MelanderEditing by Sharon Singleton