King Charles III addresses the French Senate on Thursday in Paris on day two of a three day state visit to France. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/EPA-EFE/Pool
Sept. 21 (UPI) -- King Charles III addressed the French Senate on Thursday, the first British monarch to do so from the floor of the upper chamber of Parliament, promising lawmakers he would do everything in his power to strengthen the "indispensable relationship" of the two countries.
In a 20-minute-long speech, mainly in French, Charles pledged that Britain would always be one of France's "closest allies and best friends."
He described the late Queen Elizabeth II, who had a lifelong affection for all things French, as a "golden thread" in the "tapestry" between France and Britain.
Recalling a statement released by the French Senate upon his mother's death in September 2022 which read: "She loved France, France loved her," Charles said the tribute meant a great deal to him and his family and "moved him beyond measure."
"I can only thank you, and the people of France, for the great kindness you showed to us, and our people, at a time of such grief."
"In the rich and complex tapestry of the relationship between France and the United Kingdom, my mother's golden thread will forever shine brightly. Let it inspire us all to continue to weave the connections between our two countries -- with determination, hope and with love."
He also spoke of the two countries' "shared commitment to freedom and democracy," calling Russia's invasion of Ukraine "horrifying."
He referenced how General Charles De Gaulle's Free French government continued its fight against Nazi occupation from exile in London during the Second World War as an example of the necessity for unity against "unprovoked aggression on our continent."
"Together we are steadfast in our determination Ukraine will triumph and that our cherished freedoms will prevail," he said.
Referencing the 1904 Entente Cordiale Treaty that ended a century of Anglo-French rivalry over North American colonies, Charles, a lifelong environmental campaigner, called for the partnership to be re-imagined as a force for addressing the twin crises.
"Let us renew it for future generations so that, I would like to propose, it also becomes Entente pour la Durabilite -- a partnership for sustainability -- in order to tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency more effectively," he said.
Charles wound up his address to cheers and applause from lawmakers and a standing ovation.
Meanwhile, across the city at France's national library, book lovers Queen Camilla and French First Lady Brigitte Macron launched a new Franco-British literary prize for young adult fiction followed by a reception attended by Sebastian Faulks, Charles de Gaulle biographer Julian Jackson and Edward St Aubyn, author of the Patrick Melrose novels.
Macron and Camilla, a student in Paris in the 1960s, went on to a gym where they took each other on in a game of ping pong.
From left to right, Britain's Queen Camilla and King Charles III pose with French President Emmanuel Macron, and his wife, Brigitte Macron, at the Elysée Palace in Paris on September 20, 2023. The royal couple are on a three-day state visit. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo