King Charles III on Thursday followed in his mother Queen Elizabeth II's footsteps by addressing lawmakers in the French upper chamber of parliament with a speech calling for strengthened ties to help tackle the world's environmental challenges.
Charles focused on a message of unity between France and the UK, ending with a personal pledge to strengthen what he described as the “indispensable” relationship between the two countries during his time as monarch.
"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 said.
He emphasised the political, historical and cultural links between the two nations as well as the mutual challenges France and the UK both face. A shared determination and alliance were “more important than ever” in the context of the war in Ukraine, and to protect the world from environmental threats, he said.
Charles suggested that France and Britain should team up to jointly tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies with a new version of the 1904 Entente Cordiale pact that sealed the friendship between Paris and London.
"I would like to propose it also becomes an 'Entente pour la Durabilité' (Partnership for Sustainability) in order to tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency more effectively," he said.
The king also referenced the late Queen Elizabeth II, herself a popular figure in France, who addressed the Senate in 2004. Charles thanked France for the “great kindness” it had shown the royal family and the UK following her death in September 2022.
The king’s speech, which he delivered in English and French, received a warm reception from French lawmakers, who gave a standing ovation as it came to a close.
Charles' speech at the Senate, France's upper house of parliament, was the diplomatic high point of a more informal day.
He will then 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.
Also heading to the Île de la Cité on the river Seine, Charles will tour a flower market named after Queen Elizabeth II on her last state visit in 2014.
From there, he will view renovation and reconstruction work at the nearby Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was partially destroyed by a devastating fire in 2019.
Following 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 Élysée Palace.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Britain's King Charles III addresses lawmakers from both the upper and the lower house of parliament at the Senate in Paris on Thursday, September 21, 2023. © Christophe Ena, AP