The British monarch addresses lawmakers in the upper chamber of the French Parliament on the second day of his visit.
Britain’s King Charles III has pledged to do everything he can during his reign to strengthen the relationship between France and the United Kingdom, suggesting the two countries should team up to tackle the climate crisis.
“For the time that is granted to me as king, I pledge to do whatever I can to strengthen the indispensable relationship between the United Kingdom and France,” he told the French Senate in a keynote address on the second day of a three-day visit on Thursday.
The British monarch also suggested that Paris and London should team up to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies with a new version of the 1904 Entente Cordiale pact, which sealed the friendship between the two nations.
“I would like to propose it also becomes an ‘Entente pour la Durabilite’ [Partnership for Sustainability] in order to tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency more effectively,” Charles told lawmakers in the upper chamber of the French Parliament.
At a lavish state banquet held at the Palace of Versailles on Wednesday evening, Charles issued a similar call for France and the UK to reinvigorate their relations in comments echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
It is “incumbent upon us all to reinvigorate our friendship to ensure it is fit for the challenge of this, the 21st century”, Charles said in a toast.
Macron added: “Despite Brexit, … I know, your majesty, that we will continue to write part of the future of our continent together to meet the challenges and to serve the causes we have in common.”
“Our relations have, of course, not always been entirely straightforward,” Charles said in a speech in both English and accented but clearly spoken French that impressed his hosts.
But he set out an optimistic vision of the Entente Cordiale, calling it a “sustainable alliance”.
Later on Thursday, the British monarch will visit the northern Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis – home to the French national stadium used for the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics next year – where he is expected to see residents and sports stars.
At the Ile de la Cite in the river Seine, Charles, a keen gardener who once admitted he talked to his plants, will tour a flower market named after his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
From there, he will view renovation and reconstruction work at the nearby Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was partially destroyed by a fire in 2019.
Nearly 1,000 people are working to restore the cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century and is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
After the fire, Charles said in an emotional message to Macron that he was “utterly heartbroken”, calling Notre-Dame “one of the greatest architectural achievements of Western civilisation”.
The Paris leg of the state visit wraps up with a formal farewell from Macron at the Elysee Palace.
The visit, which was rescheduled from March due to mass protests against French pension reforms, also aims to showcase Charles’s stature as a statesman just over a year after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The original itinerary in Paris and the southwestern city of Bordeaux is largely unchanged and is packed with ceremony and pomp in a country that abolished its monarchy in the 1789 revolution and executed its king.