TIMELINE | The landmark moments in the long-running French love affair with the British royal family


The Queen And Prince Philip With President Mitterrand And His Wife Outside The Louve During An Official Tour Of France.


The Queen And Prince Philip With President Mitterrand And His Wife Outside The Louve During An Official Tour Of France.

Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

TIMELINE: It’s a well-known fact: France, which beheaded its own king and queen, has a long-running love affair with the British royal family that has endured ups and downs in the cross-Channel relationship. From Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II, visiting British monarchs have received a warm welcome in Paris over the past 170 years. Amid King Charles’ pending state visit to France – Friday it was announced said visit had been postponed amid protests – we look back at some milestone moments.


Victoria: Queen of Versailles

In August 1855, Queen Victoria makes her first state visit to Paris, the first by a British monarch in 400 years.

After spending centuries at war, Britain and France are now fighting together against the Russian Empire in Crimea.

In a landmark moment, Victoria visits Napoleon I’s tomb at the Invalides war museum in Paris.

“I stood on the arm of Napoleon IIIrd, before the coffin of his Uncle, our bitterest foe! I, the granddaughter of that King, who hated Napoleon most.”

— Queen Victoria wrote in her journal

The grande finale is a sumptuous supper and a ball for 1 200 guests thrown by the emperor at the Palace of Versailles.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria.

Edward VII: Entente Cordiale

Two years after Queen Victoria’s death, her son Edward VII visits France in the spring of 1903 amid renewed tensions over the two European powers’ colonial rivalry.

President Émile Loubet welcomes him with great pomp, but he has to work hard to win over an initially hostile French public.

On 8 April 1904, his efforts bear fruit in the form of the Entente Cordiale, a landmark treaty settling Britain and France’s colonial disputes.

George V: WWI storm clouds

Europe is on the brink of World War I when King George V and Queen Mary visit Paris in April 1914.

As the royal motorcade passes, Parisians line the avenues paved with the colours of the Union Jack flag.

During a state dinner at the Élysée presidential palace, President Raymond Poincaré hails the Franco-British Entente as “one of the soundest guarantees of European equilibrium”.

George VI: ‘Long live the king!’

In July 1938, Europe is again on the threshold of war when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth sweep into Paris to cries of “Long live the king!”

George VI ascended to the throne after his elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry a twice-divorced American, Wallis Warfield Simpson.

His visit comes at a time of growing alarm in Paris and London at Nazi Germany’s war preparations.

For the traditional banquet at the Élysée Palace, Queen Elizabeth wears the “Koh I Noor”, the biggest diamond in the world.

King George VI (1895 - 1952) and Queen Elizabeth (

King George VI (1895 Р1952) and Queen Elizabeth (1900 Р2002) attend a garden party at the Ch̢teau de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, during their State Visit to Paris, France, July 1938. On the right is French President Albert Fran̤ois Lebrun (1871 Р1950). The Queen is wearing a dress from the White Wardrobe designed for her by Norman Hartnell to mark the death of her mother, the Countess of Strathmore.

Elizabeth II: Queen of French hearts

Over her record seven-decade reign, Queen Elizabeth II pays five state visits to France, winning hearts with her command of the language, dry wit and what she calls her “great affection for the French”.

Her first official visit as a newly-married 21-year-old princess in 1948 causes a sensation, with crowds lining the street to try to catch a glimpse of her and husband, Prince Philip.

Her star power is still in evidence when she makes her first state visit to France as queen in 1957.

President René Coty pulls out all the stops, putting on a banquet at the Louvre museum and sprucing up the banks of the Seine for Elizabeth’s river cruise.

As the years pass, her visits take on a more overtly diplomatic flavour, marking the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community in 1972, the centenary of the Entente Cordiale in 2004 and the 70th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings in 2004.

Conveying his sympathy to the British people on her death last year, President Emmanuel Macron said: “To you, she was your Queen. To us, she was The Queen.”

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: A miniature Eiffel T

A miniature Eiffel Tower is placed on the front pages of newspapers, Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph in a newsstand with the photos of Queen Elizabeth II the day after the announcement of her death on September 09, 2022 in Paris, France. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland aged 96 on September 8, 2022, and is survived by her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Andrew, Duke Of York and Edward, Duke of Wessex. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and acceded the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II was the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch.



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