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Emmanuel Macron's sly Brexit dig to King Charles on first day of royal tour

NewsEmmanuel Macron's sly Brexit dig to King Charles on first day of royal tour

Emmanuel Macron made his feelings on Brexit clear in a sly comment to King Charles as the pair took part in a lavish banquet in Paris.

The King called for closer relations between France and the UK in an address – but Mr Macron specifically poked at the impacts of Brexit in his own speech.

The glittering state banquet, part of a three-day trip across the Channel for the monarch that had been delayed from March after violent protests against Mr Macron’s pension reform, was attended by over 150 guests including Charlotte Gainsbourg Hugh Grant, Mick Jagger, Arsene Wenger and Didier Drogba.

In his address to the room the French president said: “Despite Brexit… I know, your majesty, that we will continue to write part of the future of our continent together, to meet the challenges and to serve the causes we have in common.”

He described Charles’s visit as a “tribute to our past… and guarantee of the future”.

Charles’s own speech, which included a moving tribute to his late mother the Queen, also included a call for unity between the two nations.

It is “incumbent upon us all to reinvigorate our friendship to ensure it is fit for the challenge of this, the 21st century,” the King said in a toast.

Although Charles did not directly reference the UK’s exit from the EU, he mentioned the two countries’ “long and complex history”.

Speaking in both English and French – which Euractiv reported impressed his hosts – the monarch added: “Our relations have of course not always been entirely straightforward.”

He also set out a positive vision of the Entente Cordiale, a 1904 agreement between Britain and France that paved the way for diplomatic relations between the two in the build-up to WW1.

Charles described it as a “sustainable alliance”.

The menu included delicacies like blue lobster cooked as a starter by star chef Anne-Sophie Pic.

For the King, the event represented his first diplomatic visit to the country since he first took on the throne.

The event was hosted in the beautiful Hall of Mirrors in Versailles – the same location where Elizabeth II had lunch with then-President Rene Coty in her first state visit to France in 1957.

As they were driven down the Champs-Élysées towards their talks at the Élysée Palace earlier, Macron and the King were seen chatting amicably.

Camilla and Macron’s wife Brigitte followed behind in a similar vehicle.

They are known to have a strong relationship, with commentators noting how Macron had repeatedly touched Charles’s shoulder and Brigitte Macron kissed Camilla, in a level of public affection previously not seen between the French leader and the Queen.

The event comes as Rishi Sunak reportedly looks to improve UK-French relations following a turbulent period in the years after Brexit.

Mr Macron had a difficult relationship with Boris Johnson, and reportedly even labelled him a “clown” as he took the UK out of the EU.

On Thursday, Charles will make a keynote address to the French upper house Senate and give a speech on the environment – one of his most cherished causes.

And on Friday, the last day of his visit, he will head to the southwestern city of Bordeaux where trips will include a visit to an organic vineyard.

Follow our live blog for the latest updates on King Charles’ trip to France.

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