Take One: cancelled
The primary State Go to to France by the newly topped British royal couple was deliberate for Might. However France was convulsed by mass protests towards a deliberate enhance to the nationwide retirement age for the state pension. And demonstrators had threatened mass disruptions. French commerce unions even warned that nobody could be round to rearrange the ‘crimson carpets, flags, and furnishings’ for the general public buildings the royals could be visiting. ‘What? No crimson carpet? No flags? Can’t have that. Let’s name the entire thing off.’
And so it was, however, on the time, commentators noticed this as a let-off for royal public relations. The ‘optics’ have been troublesome to clarify.
Simply think about the distinction: a skyrocketing price of residing disaster in each international locations. Lengthy queues exterior UK meals banks, mother and father having to resolve between heating and consuming. Whereas a crowd of blue-bloods was scoffing luxurious meals. And swilling eye-wateringly costly alcohol within the luxurious Corridor of Mirrors on the Palace of Versailles.
Soar to twenty September 2023.
Take Two: A banquet Match for Kings on the Chateau de Versailles.
The troublesome ‘optics’ for the royal couple’s second shot at visiting France have been nonetheless apparent.
The President of the Wealthy, as Macron is understood to many, was taking part in host to King Charlie and his spouse on their first State Go to. No expense was spared in a staggeringly extravagant show of how the higher crust lives.
Among the many 150-plus friends was a number of stellar celebrities, together with:
- film heartthrob Hugh Grant,
- actor Charlotte Gainsbourg,
- pop star Mick Jagger,
- Didier Drogba, the once-voted Chelsea star striker,
- and the world’s richest particular person, Bernard Arnault.
And all this carry-on was supported by numerous equerries, secretaries, advisors, women in ready, skivvies, servants, and different hangers-on.
The State Go to was deliberate as a gesture of friendship from Britain after the rocky street to Brexit. And each international locations do pomp and ceremony properly. Army bands and parades on the Arc de Triomphe. Grownup and youngsters’s choirs. And sure, that gave the impression of somebody shouting:
Vive le Roi!”
However the flypast by crack fighter pilots from each international locations left shiny crimson, white, and blue vapour trails of jet engine emissions throughout the skies of Paris. And, shhh, don’t point out it, we don’t need any greenie credentials tarnished, however Charlie’s Bentley was shipped over simply in case there was a taxi strike.
Relations aprés Brexit
Inter-country relations dropped like a stone after the UK forged itself adrift from the European Union. There have been bitter rows over fishing rights and refugees. And short-lived PM, Liz Truss actually put her foot in it when she stated the “jury is out” on whether or not Macron was a buddy or a foe of Britain.
However, because the state go to exhibits, they’ve kissed and made up now and the Entente cordiale is again on observe.
Again at Versailles, a sixty-foot-long seating association was used, permitting everybody to be seated ‘on the King’s desk’. The menu highlights included blue lobster and potted crab with a touch of recent almonds and mint. The primary course was Bresse hen with corn and a porcini mushroom gratin, adopted by a set of three hand-picked cheeses — two French and one English. The pud, Isfahan Macaroon, was concocted by a specialist dessert chef. (One can’t assist questioning what they have been consuming within the scruffy components of Seine-Saint-Denis and the derelict bits of Barking & Dagenham that evening.)
The Corridor of Mirrors within the Palace of Versailles has mirrored a few of France’s — and the world’s — most essential moments. It’s now a museum, nevertheless it’s nonetheless utilized by French presidents to host anybody they need to impress.
- The World Warfare I peace treaty (the one that might finish all wars) was signed there in 1919. Sufficient stated about that.
- Within the post-WWII years, President Charles de Gaulle used the Corridor to host John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
- Socialist president Francois Mitterrand was there to welcome Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev to France.
- Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande used Versailles to entertain Libyan chief Gaddafi and Chinese language President Xi Jinping.
- And in 2017, President Macron welcomed, anticipate it, none apart from President Putin. However that was earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine turned him right into a leper only a few will take care of.
Studying the tea leaves
Dates are at all times essential, and anybody who likes to learn issues into what tea leaves in cups must say about them ought to word the next.
On 20 September 1792, simply over 220 years earlier than Charley 3 and Emmanuel and their huge entourages obtained caught into their grub at Versailles, the French Military defeated the Prussian military that was marching on Paris. The battle befell on the tiny village of Valmy, in Champagne-Ardenne. This sudden victory inspired the French Nationwide Conference to ascertain the French Republic and to formally abolish the monarchy. Many historians imagine the ripple impact ensuing from the French victory helped to unfold revolutionary ideas and the idea of civil and human rights throughout Europe — and past. And plenty of commentators imagine this makes the victory at Valmy some of the essential battles in historical past.
Enfin, l’addition s’il vous plaît. What in regards to the invoice?
So what did this obscenely money-wasting show-off exhibitionism price when it was throughout? That’s simple to reply: mountains and mountains of cash. Nobody is aware of precisely how a lot. And nobody appears to care. However, “Who paid?” you could properly ask. That’s simple — we did. The nice unwashed taxpayers in each international locations.
Vive le Roi. Vive La Republique! Vive La France! And, no matter you could be consuming tonight, bon appétit!
1. Royal go to 2023 by way of Royal.uk web site
2. At Versaille by way of Instagram @franceinaustralia
3. Corridor of Mirror state banquet at Versaille copyright Photoshot/image alliance by way of DM
4. hyperlink to video of the Flypast by way of Instagram @EmmanuelMacron
5. Charlotte Gainsbourg arriving at State Banquet – clip from video AFP
Your subscription to the (free or paid) ‘le Bulletin’ could be great, and can assist me proceed to construct ‘le Bulletin’ – the weekly publication of MyFrenchLife.org Journal to be even deeper.
Merci Mille Fois