King Charles III will travel to France and Germany for his first state visits since becoming monarch, Buckingham Palace said on Friday, underscoring Britain’s efforts to build bridges with its European neighbors after years of strained relations caused for Brexit.
Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, will visit the two largest countries in the European Union from March 26 to 31, hosted by Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, the palace announced.
«The visit will celebrate the UK’s relationship with France and Germany, marking our shared histories, culture and values,» the palace said. “It’s also an opportunity to look ahead and show the many ways our countries are working in partnership, whether it’s tackling climate change; respond to the conflict in Ukraine; take advantage of commercial and investment opportunities or share the best of our arts and culture”.
Highlighting the importance of the trip is the fact that it will be the first state visit by a British monarch since 2015; the late Queen Elizabeth II, Charles’s mother, stopped traveling abroad in her later years.
The announcement came just days after Charles met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Windsor Castle and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a breakthrough in talks to resolve the dispute over Post-Brexit trade deals for Northern Ireland.
Sunak will be keen to use the soft power of the monarchy to highlight the thaw in UK-EU relations, which have been strained by Britain’s decision to leave the bloc.
The trip to France and Germany is being made at the request of the British government and at the invitation of the two governments, the palace said.
The royals will first travel to France, where they will be welcomed by Macron and take part in a remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Charles will later meet members of the National Assembly and the Senate and attend a state banquet at the Chateau de Versailles.
The French leg of the trip will also include travel to Bordeaux, which is home to a large British community. The royal couple plans to visit an organic vineyard and one of the areas devastated by wildfires last summer.
Charles and Camilla are scheduled to travel to Germany on March 29, where they will be received by Steinmeier and Charles plans to address the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. Steinmeier will also host a state banquet for the royal couple.
Charles will also meet Ukrainian refugees in Germany, visit a joint UK-German military unit and travel to Hamburg, where he will visit sustainable energy projects.
In November, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, made the first state visit to Britain of Charles’s reign. But the visit had been in the works before the late queen’s death.