King Charles III praised France and the UK’s “indispensable relationship” and its capacity to meet the world’s challenges, including the war in Ukraine and climate change, in a historic address to French lawmakers on Thursday.
The King received a warm welcome from French lawmakers from both the upper and lower houses of parliament gathered at the Senate, who stood and applauded him at length.
It marks the first time a British monarch has made a speech in a French voting chamber.
He told the French lawmakers that the partnership between the two nations “remains absolutely vital as together we confront the challenges of this world.”
He added: “The United Kingdom will be one of France’s closest allies and best friends.”
“Our determination and our alliance are more important than ever” in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he added. “Together, we are unwavering in our determination that Ukraine will triumph and that our cherished freedom will prevail.”
Charles offered to adapt the Franco-British “Entente Cordiale,” a 1904 series of agreements that settled former disputes and significantly improved relations, into an “entente for sustainability to respond more effectively to the global climate and biodiversity emergency.”
“There’s no challenge we can’t meet, as we have so often done in the past,” he said.
On the second day of his state visit to France, Charles also met with sports groups in the northern suburbs of Paris and was scheduled to pay a visit to fire-damaged Notre-Dame cathedral.
Charles and Queen Camilla then headed to Saint-Denis, north of Paris, to meet community sports groups and stars as France currently hosts the Rugby World Cup.
Saint-Denis, a multicultural, working-class suburb, will serve as a major venue in next year’s Olympics. It is also home to the basilica that houses the tombs of French kings.
Charles and Camilla’s trip started with a ceremony at Arc de Triomphe in Paris and a state dinner at the Palace of Versailles on Wednesday.
On Thursday afternoon, Charles will visit the Paris flower market named after his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and rejoin Macron in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral to see the ongoing renovation work aimed at reopening the monument by the end of next year, after it was devastated by a fire in 2019.
“I look forward to visiting that magnificent cathedral ... to see how centuries-old crafts have been revived and passed onto apprentices who are helping to restore Notre-Dame to its former glory,” he said in Versailles.
Charles and Macron will also attend a reception for British and French business leaders about financing climate-related and biodiversity projects.
The King will end his trip on Friday with a stop in Bordeaux, the southwestern city that is home to a large British community.
AP Writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to the story.