King Charles and Queen Camila will begin their State Visit to France today, which will be the latest in over 500 years of British State Visits to France, celebrating the close relationship between the neighbours and allies. Five of the Ten British State Visits to France were made by the late Queen Elizabeth II, while today’s State Visit will be King Charles’ 36th Official Visit to France.
One of the first modern State Visits was the Field of Gold Cloth, an extensive visited between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France from 7 to 24 June 1520, held at Balinghem, between Ardres in France and Guînes in the English Pale of Calais.
During the English Civil War, King Louis XIV of France hosted his first cousin, King Charles II, and the English Royal Family in France, and later also hosted the exiled King James II following the Glorious Revolution of 1689.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made their first State Visit to France in 1843, when they were hosted by King Louis Philippe at the Château d’Eu in Normandy. They stayed the Château d’Eu again two years later, in September 1845.
Following the French State Visit to Britain, Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie hosted Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal on their landmark State Visit to France in 1855, with a Ball in the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) at the Château of Versailles, an Opera Performance at the Paris Opera House (Queen Victoria wore her Emerald Tiara and Parure), a Banquet in the Apollo’s Gallery of the Château de Saint-Cloud (Queen Victoria wore her Opal Parure and the Empress wore the French Sapphire Parure), and a Ball for 8000 at the Paris City Hall.
King Edward VII made an important State Visit to France in 1903, which gained much public support for the signing of the Entente Cordiale, which has proved to to be deciding document of Anglo-French Alliance through the 20th century. Queen Alexandra and not joined the King on the State Visit, but was in Paris with her sister, the Empress of Russia, and both of them joined the crowds cheering the King.
In 1938, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended a State Banquet at the Élysée Palace (wearing her Crown), a Gala Performance at the Opéra Garnier (in the Oriental Circlet Tiara) and a Banquet at the Quai d’Orsay (wearing the Greville Tiara and the Greville Festoon Necklace) during their important State Visit to France, which came just on the cusp of the Second World War and was the only outgoing State Visit of their Reign.
A decade later, the newlywed Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh went on an Official Visit to Paris in 1948, which included a State Banquet hosted by President Vincent Auriol in honour of Princess Elizabeth (wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and the South African Diamond Necklace), as well as a Gala Performance at the Opéra Garnier in Paris in honour of the Princess (wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace, and Queen Mary’s Diamond Stomacher).
In 1951, Princess Margaret (wearing her iconic Dior Gown with the Cartier Halo Tiara and her Royal Family Orders) attended a Ball organised by the Cercle de L’Union Interallié at the Hôtel Perrinet de Jars In Paris, in aid of the Paris-based Hertford British Hospital.
The Queen Mother went on an Official Visit to Paris in 1956, to open the Franco-Scottish Exhibition, attending a Dinner in her (wearing Queen Victoria’s Oriental Circlet Tiara, the Crown Ruby Parure, and Queen Victoria’s Crown Ruby Brooch) honour hosted by the French Government and the City of Paris.
France was the fourth country visited by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on a State Visit in 1957, including a Banquet in honour of the Queen (wearing the Vladimir Tiara and Cambridge Emerald Parure) at the Élysée Palace in Paris, followed by a Performance at the Paris Opera House. The Queen (in the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara) and Duke also attended a magnificent Banquet in the Salle des Caryatids of the Louvre, before she (wearing Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace) hosted a cruise on the River Seine and a Return Banquet at the Hôtel de Charost.
On their next State Visit to France in 1972, the Queen (wearing the Vladimir Tiara, Duchess of Gloucester’s Pendant Earrings, and Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace) and Duke of Edinburgh attended a Banquet at the Palace of Versailles and visited the Duke and Duchess of Windsor ahead of a Return Banquet hosted by the Queen (wearing Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara) at the British Embassy in Paris.
In 1992, President Mitterrand hosted a State Banquet for the Queen (wearing the Burmese Ruby Tiara) at the Élysée Palace, followed by a Tour of the Louvre. The next day, there was a Return Banquet hosted by the Queen (in the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara) and the Hôtel de Charost, while on the final evening the Queen (wearing the Belgian Sapphire Tiara) hosted another Banquet on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.
In 2004, the Queen went on another State Visit to France, to mark the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, with a Gala Dinner hosted by President Jacques Chirac in honour of the Queen (wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara) at the Élysée Palace.
Ten years later, the Queen was back in France for her fifth and final State Visit, attending the international D-Day commemoration ceremony on the beach of Ouistreham in Normandy, marking the 70th anniversary of the World War II Allied landings in Normandy. That evening, President Francois Hollande hosted a State Banquet in honour of the Queen (wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara) at the Élysée Palace.
This will be King Charles’s 36th Official Visit to France, with the most prominent being when he and the late Princess of Wales were hosted by President Francois Mitterrand at the Élysée Palace in 1988. This will be Queen Camilla’s 9th Official Visit to France, with then Duchess of Cornwall going on a prominent solo visit in 2013.
The most recent Official Royal Visit to France was in 2017, by the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who met President François Hollande and attended a Dinner hosted by the British Ambassador at the Hôtel de Charost.
- The King and Queen will join President and Mrs. Macron for a ceremony of Remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe, marking the shared sacrifices of the past and an enduring legacy of cooperation.
- His Majesty will have a bilateral meeting with President Macron at the Elysée Palace.
- Their Majesties will be guests of honour at a State Banquet hosted at the Palace of Versailles by President and Mrs. Macron.
- Their Majesties will meet community sports groups and well-known sports stars, to show the benefits sport can bring, particularly to young people, as France hosts the Rugby World Cup.
- The King will address Senators and members of the National Assembly at the French Senate.
- The Queen, together with Mrs. Macron, will launch a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
- His Majesty and President Macron will attend a sustainability reception for British and French business leaders, to hear more about their plans to invest to protect biodiversity and combat climate change.
- His Majesty will meet emergency workers and communities affected by the 2022 Bordeaux wildfires, at the Forêt Experimentale, a site designed to monitor the responses of urban forests to climate change.
- Their Majesties will meet U.K. and French military personnel to hear more about how the two nations are collaborating on defence.
- The King and Queen will attend a GREAT campaign event in Bordeaux, which will showcase British and French businesses and will provide an opportunity for Their Majesties to meet members of the French and British communities in the city.
- The Royal couple will tour an organic vineyard, which has pioneered a sustainable approach to wine making.
Which Tiara will Queen Camilla wear?