King Charles III will travel to France and Germany for his first state visits since becoming monarch, Buckingham Palace said on Friday, underscoring Britain’s efforts to build bridges with its European neighbors after years of strained relations due to Brexit. Did.
Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, are set to tour the EU’s two largest countries on March 26-31, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the palace announced.
“The visit will celebrate the UK’s relationship with France and Germany, highlighting our shared history, culture and values,” the palace said. that to deal with climate change; Responding to the conflict in Ukraine; Seize the trade and investment opportunities or share the best of our art and culture.
Highlighting the importance of the visit is the fact that it will be the first state visit by a British monarch since 2015; The late Queen Elizabeth II, Charles’s mother, stopped traveling abroad in her later years.
The announcement comes just days after Charles met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Windsor Castle and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a breakthrough in talks to resolve a dispute over post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland. announced.
Sunak will be eager to use the monarchy’s soft power to highlight the rift in relations between Britain and the European Union, which have been strained by Britain’s decision to leave the bloc.
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The palace said the trip to France and Germany was being undertaken at the request of the British government and at the invitation of both governments.
The royal family will first travel to France, where they will be received by Macron and attend a commemoration ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Charles will later meet with members of the National Assembly and Senate and attend a state banquet at the Château de Versailles.
The French leg of the tour will also include a visit to Bordeaux, which is home to a large British community. The royal couple plan to visit an organic vineyard and one of the areas devastated by last summer’s wildfires.
Charles and Camilla are due to travel to Germany on March 29, where they will be received by Steinmeier and Charles plans to address Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. Steinmeier will also host a state banquet for the royal couple.
Charles will also meet Ukrainian refugees in Germany, tour a joint UK-German military unit and travel to Hamburg, where he will tour sustainable energy projects.
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While Britain’s monarchs have delegated most of their power to the country’s elected leaders, the aura of the monarchy and the pomp and ceremony of royal visits are still used as a way to polish Britain’s image and strengthen ties with countries around the world. is seen as
This role was portrayed by Elizabeth, who made 121 state visits during her 70-year reign, leading royal historian Robert Hardman to dub her “Queen of the World”.
When Charles met von der Leyen on Monday, Buckingham Palace was quick to emphasize that it was working closely with the government.
The palace said before that meeting, “The King is pleased to meet any world leader if they are visiting Britain, and it is the government’s advice that they should do so.”
The French leg of the visit could have a special significance for Charles, who is said to have forged a close relationship with Macron because of the two men’s shared focus on protecting the environment and fighting climate change.
Mutual respect was also expressed by the President of Germany. In a video message, Steinmeier said he had last met Charles at Elizabeth’s funeral and invited him to visit Germany as king. He said Charles’ decision to visit after half a year shows how much the king values the friendship between Germans and Britain.
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The German president said Charles’ decision to visit Germany and France was “also an important European gesture.”
“I would like to say to them, but certainly to all Britons as well: We in Germany, we in Europe, want close and friendly relations with the United Kingdom even after Brexit,” Steinmeier said.
In November, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made the first state visit to Britain under Charles. But the work on this visit was underway before the death of the late queen.
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