France, Germany to host Charles III on first state visits as king
King Charles III will make his first state visits as UK monarch when he travels to France and Germany later this month, Buckingham Palace announced on Friday.
The choice of the two European nations and close allies is widely seen as an attempt to build post-Brexit bridges and an acknowledgement of the affection the late Queen Elizabeth II had for France.
The visits will take place from March 26 to March 31, ahead of the king's coronation on May 6.
The tour "will celebrate Britain's relationship with France and Germany, marking our shared histories, culture and values", the palace said.
Charles and his wife Camilla will be in France from March 26 to March 29, and will join President Emmanuel Macron for a ceremony of remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The king will make an address at the French Senate, while Camilla and the French first lady Brigitte Macron will officially open the new Manet and Degas exhibition at the Musee d'Orsay.
The royal couple will then be guests of honour at a state banquet hosted by the Macrons at the Palace of Versailles and will also pay a visit to Bordeaux in southwestern France.
While there, Charles will "witness first-hand the devastation caused by last summer's wildfires" on the outskirts of Bordeaux and visit an organic vineyard, the palace said.
The visit will take place shortly after a first trip to France by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on March 10 for a bilateral summit.
- Historic relationship -
The trip will mark the king's 35th official visit to France and 29th official visit to Germany.
His mother Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, last undertook state visits to France and Germany in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Elizabeth, who was a fluent French speaker, made five state visits to France during her reign, in addition to numerous private visits.
Her first visit to France was in 1948 as the 22-year-old Princess Elizabeth.
In 1957, when she returned to France as queen, thousands lined the streets to cheer her as she travelled through the capital.
"Look at our Parisians, how much they love you," president Rene Coty told her.
On her last state visit to France in 2014, she joined 1,800 World War II veterans and 18 heads of state and government, including the US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
A Macron aide has previously said the visit would illustrate the "age-old attachment of his country to ours, beyond Brexit".
It would also be a sign of "family continuity, because Elizabeth II was a Francophile and a Francophone", the aide told Le Parisien newspaper.
Macron himself paid tribute to Britain's late monarch following her death in September 2022.
In a message to the British people, he recalled a "great head of state" and a "unique example of devotion to her people and a very close ally".
"With her, France and the United Kingdom shared not just an 'entente cordiale' but a warm, sincere and loyal partnership," he added.
Charles will head to Berlin on March 29 and undertake engagements there and in Brandenburg before heading to Hamburg, the palace added.
"The fact that King Charles chose Germany and France as his first destinations before his coronation is also an important European gesture," German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a video message.
"This visit early on underlines the close and heartfelt friendship between our countries and our citizens," he added.
Steinmeier is due to give the royal couple a ceremonial welcome at the Brandenburg Gate and then host them as guests of honour at a state banquet.
The king will also make a speech in the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, a first for a British monarch, and will also meet refugees recently arrived from Ukraine.