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VIDEO: How good are British royals at speaking French?

The Local France
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VIDEO: How good are British royals at speaking French?
Britain's royal family has contained some fluent French speakers, and some rather less fluent. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

As Britain's King Charles III visits France - we take a look at his French language skills and how they compare with the rest of the royal family.


King Charles III and Queen Camilla are paying a three-day visit to France, during which they will tour an organic vineyard in Bordeaux, meet sports stars during the Rugby World Cup and be treated to a banquet at Versailles.

Insiders say that much of the visit will be conducted in French - although president Emmanuel Macron does speak fluent English.

And we reckon Charles will have no problems communicating - this speech he gave in French in 2020 shows a sure grasp of the language with good pronunciation and an impressive rolling R. 


The king made 34 trips to France during his time as Prince of Wales and is known to be fond of the country.


His mother Queen Elizabeth II was also described as a francophile and visited dozens of times during her long reign.

She too was a fluent French speaker - although as this video from a 1964 visit to Quebec shows, she retained her distinctive British accent even when speaking French.


Having a British accent in France is no bad thing, however, film star Jane Birkin never lost her accent despite spending virtually her entire career in France, and was widely loved for it. 

Here's the Queen making confident small-talk (about the weather, naturally) with former president François Hollande, who at the time spoke very little English - although he's been taking lessons since leaving the Elysée in 2017.


The late Queen's husband, the Greek-born Prince Philip, was also a fluent French speaker, and in fact spent part of his childhood in France.

Somewhat surprisingly, then, his accent remained distinctly British, but he was an accomplished speaker who was comfortable enough to crack jokes in the language, such as in this speech he gave at the Elysée in 1966.


Into the 'points for trying' category goes Charles' son Prince William. On a visit to Canada in 2017 he stumbled through reading a couple of sentences in French before gratefully switching back to English and acknowledging that his French was "pretty rusty".

We'll give him a few marks for bravery, however. 



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