This post will introduce you to the some of the schedule relevant to Her Majesty, the Queen’s State Visit to France … before the exceptionally long A-Z post on D-Day which will follow …
Royal State Visit to France … 5th to 7th June 2014
Our Queen is deeply admired in France. She represents the permanence of an eternal Britain in an ancestral rivalry in which mutual admiration has always matched enmity.
Before she had even left London she was unveiling a 20th anniversary plaque celebrating the opening of the Channel Tunnel and the launch of high speed rail services between the UK and mainland Europe.
She then travelled on EuroStar to Paris when she was given a ceremonial welcome at the Arc de Triomphe and a drive down the Champs Elysees with the French President …
… later she attended one of those Garden Parties I have mentioned … they evolved from the presentation parties for the debutantes, but are now a way of rewarding and recognising public service, and are by invitation only to people from all walks of life. There are at least three in Buckingham Palace, one in Edinburgh and often others – such as here at the British ambassador’s residence.
|The Queen being welcomed in Paris
“La Reine d’Angleterre” … the Queen was on her 5th Royal visit to France, which included the Commemorative Anniversary of D-Day and the rapprochement … the French have with the British for their freedom in 1944.
For France, the Queen’s attire and demeanour reflect the exotic otherness of a realm that contrasts with its turbulent succession of kings, dictators and presidents. ‘Sa majeste’ is revered by the older generations as a witness to French and European history.
Her first visit was in 1948, as Princess, when France was picking itself up from wartime occupation. In French eyes she is the symbol of the suffering of the British under Hitler’s bombing and their resistance and courage.
She speaks perfect French – another exemplar – and was paid the ultimate compliment by the people of Paris when a flower market was named in her honour to reflect the “enormous affection” in which she is held by the French.
The unlikely cry of “Long Live the Queen!” reverberated around the 200 year old flower market on the Ile de la Cite, which was renamed Marche Aux Fleurs Reine Elizabeth II in her honour.
She then took “un bain de foule” any ideas? Crowd bath … as a walkabout is known in French!! Funny language ….?
Part 2: 5th and 6th June 2014
The Royals’ itinerary for the D-Day 70th anniversary Commemoration events in Normandy …
The annual midnight vigil on Pegasus Bridge – for those 12.16 am glider landings seventy years ago … at the start of D-Day – a tradition started after the war – was maintained once again: Café Gondree was the first building to be taken in the offensive.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, paid a visit to Pegasus Bridge and met survivors of the Glider Pilot Regiment, together with other Canadian regimental survivors.
Bayeux Cathedral, where the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall joined 400 Commonwealth veterans for the Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance.
Bayeux was the first town to be liberated during the invasion … the former home of the Bayeux tapestry.
The service ended with a blessing for the cathedral’s Bell for Peace and Freedom, which was commissioned by the diocese for the 70th anniversary commemorations.
Bell for Peace and Freedom
The Queen, the Duke, Prince Charles and the Duchess attended the Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bayeux and met veterans.
|The staircase at Benouville Chateau
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a lunch for Heads of State and Government given by President Hollande, at the Chateau de Benouville.
After lunch all the dignitaries attended the Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings at Sword Beach (Ouistreham).
The French were keen to arrange the D-Day commemorative events around the Queen's attendance ... so the British Sword Beach was chosen by President Hollande for the 'spectacle' (show) which was enacted here.
This had been a British beach. And, as by far the longest-serving head of state present, the Queen had the honour of arriving last.
|Lord Lovat's Piper piping the British ashore -
Lord Lovat is wading ashore just in front.
It was hot ... and the 7,000 guests sat baking in the 26 degree C heat (hot for around here!) ... the veterans were certainly suffering as the minutes ticked on ... and on ... and on ...
The world leaders ended up spending an extra hour over lunch. Later we learnt that Presidents Putin (Russia) and Porochenko (Ukraine) had been having a meeting ... in theory to resolve the Ukrainian crisis ...
|Canadian Troops landing at Juno Beach
There was warm applause for Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor ...
... everyone was studiously avoiding President Putin ...
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended a Ceremony of Remembrance at Juno Beach to commemorate Canada’s role in the Normandy Landings.
|Elysee Palace Cuisine
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a veterans’ tea party in the town of Arromanches.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went on to attend the Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings at Gold Beach (Arromanches).
The Queen returned to Paris to be guest of honour at an Elysee Palace banquet ...
The A-Z post on D-day is following … it is long!!
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