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FRANCE AND UK

‘The French are also in mourning’: France pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday hailed Queen Elizabeth II as "a friend of France... who marked her country and her century as never before", following the announcement of her death.

'The French are also in mourning': France pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (C) is greeted by her son Prince Charles ahead of a British D-Day commemoration ceremony in Bayeux cemetery, northern France, on June 6, 2014, marking the 70th anniversary of the World War II Allied landings in Normandy. (Photo by LEON NEAL / AFP)

“Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II embodied continuity and unity in the British nation for more than 70 years,” the French leader tweeted.

“I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left her mark on her country and her century forever,” he said, adding that flags over the Elysée Palace would fly at half mast on Friday and on the day of her funeral.

On Friday he recorded a special message in English to the people of the UK, and also went to the British Embassy in Paris to sign the book of condolence.

The lights on the Eiffel Tower were turned off later on Thursday evening as a mark of respect. 

British royals – especially the Queen – are very popular in France, and on Friday three of France’s main newspapers made her death their front page story.

A further statement from the Elysée Palace said: “France pays tribute to the woman who marked the history of her country, our continent and the century.

“She gave herself entirely to her kingdom. Rarely have subjects identified so much with a sovereign… She was one with her nation: she embodied a people, a territory, a common will.

“She had a special status in France and, in the hearts of the French, a singular place,” the statement read.

“No other foreign sovereign had climbed the steps of the Élysée more often than she, who gave France the honour of six state visits and met each of its presidents.”

“The queen of sixteen kingdoms loved France, and that love was reciprocated. The British people, all the countries of the Commonwealth tonight mourn the Queen. The French people are also in mourning.”

Queen Elizabeth died at Balmoral, her beloved country house in Scotland, aged 96, after 70 years on the throne.   

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy said the queen “was the symbol of the unfailing friendship between our two countries and of the values on which it is based”.

“I cherish the memory of a brilliant and free spirit, faithful to the heavy burden of her duties; of a humble and generous personality, who inspired entire generations”, he said.

Sarkozy also paid tribute to “her smile, full of kindness and playfulness” and her “deliciously British humour”.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also paid homage to the “exceptional” Queen and expressed her deepest condolences to the Royal family on behalf of Paris.

“I had the great pleasure and the chance to welcome her with her husband Prince Philip in Paris in June 2014 and to talk to this exceptional woman, with such keen intelligence and curiosity.

“On this occasion, I had the honour of inaugurating alongside her the “Queen Elizabeth II – Flower Market”  on the Ile de la Cité  which has since shone in the heart of Paris. It was a moment that I will not forget and an encounter that will remain etched in my memory.”

Earlier this year, to celebrate the Queen’s platinum Jubilee, the TV channel France Info produced this short film showing her meeting all nine of the French presidents who were in power since her reign began in 1952.

She’s also shown making several speeches in French to an appreciative audience.

To mark the 2022 Jubilee, President Emmanuel Macron recorded this special video message for her.

The Queen’s husband Prince Philip, who died in 2021, was also a competent French speaker and in fact spent part of his childhood in France.

The below video shows a visit to Charles de Gaulle at the Elysée Palace in 1966, when he made a witty speech on the subject of the Anglo-French relationship and the stereotypes that Brits and French hold of each other (and yes, he made a joke about frogs).

VIDEO: Watch Prince Philip making a speech in French (with a ‘frog’ joke)

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DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

France and Britain strike deal to develop new missiles

France and Britian have signed a deal to jointly develop new cruise and anti-ship missiles, their defence procurement agencies and manufacturer MDBA said Friday, after months of cross-Channel defence tensions over a submarine deal with Australia.

France and Britain strike deal to develop new missiles

Paris and London “have confirmed the launch of the preparation works for
the Future Cruise / Anti-Ship Weapon,” European missile specialist MBDA said
in a statement.

Both Britain’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and France’s DGA
procurement agency confirmed the three-year contract, which MBDA said aimed to develop weapons “to be fielded at the end of the decade”.

MBDA’s new weapons, a subsonic stealth variant and a “highly manoeuvrable”
supersonic version, would replace existing missiles in use by the two countries’ navies and air forces.

The two countries had been at loggerheads on defence issues since last
year, when Britain and the US struck a deal to produce nuclear-powered
submarines for Australia as Canberra tore up an existing contract with France.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly had said in October that the missile
project was “in difficulties, given the state of our relations with the UK”.

But joint British-French missiles have been on the cards since the neighbours
signed the Lancaster House treaty in 2010, solidifying close defence ties.

Britain and France account for 60 percent of European defence spending and
80 percent of defence research and development outlays between them, far
outstripping Germany and keeping London a key military partner for Paris, even
after its departure from the European Union.

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