Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, with both heads of state speaking in each others' languages.

"/> Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, with both heads of state speaking in each others' languages.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Tea time with the queen for France’s Hollande

French President Francois Hollande took a cup of tea with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, with both heads of state speaking in each others' languages.

Socialist Hollande, who was making his first visit to Britain since he was elected in May and was also meeting the queen for the first time, spent around half an hour alone with the 86-year-old monarch.

Just two photographers — one British, one French — were allowed in at the beginning of the meeting to record it for posterity.

Hollande and the queen, who was wearing a yellow dress, shook hands cordially, before she presented him with two gifts — framed and signed portraits of herself and her husband Prince Philip.

In return, the president gave the sovereign, a keen horse rider despite her age, a Sevres porcelain statue of Amphitryon, the wife of Greek sea god Poseidon, on the back of a sea horse, by the artist Antoine Orlandini.

“The queen gave him a very warm welcome,” a spokesman for the French presidency said.

“She said she had had good relations with successive French heads of state and followed French politics closely.”

Prime Minister David Cameron had earlier said that Hollande would be taking part in the very British ritual of teatime when he met the sovereign.

“I know that the president has an engagement of a cup of tea with her majesty the queen,” Cameron said as he wrapped up a joint press conference with Hollande at Downing Street in central London.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.