King Charles and Queen Camilla were welcomed with pomp and ceremony on the first day of their long-delayed state visit to France as the monarch attempts to rebuild bridges between the two nations after Brexit.
The royal couple arrived for their three-day trip on Wednesday, welcomed by President Emmanuel Macron, six months after it was postponed because of widespread rioting sparked by protests over pension reforms.
As the day drew to a close, Charles honoured his late mother, Elizabeth II, in his speech at a lavish state banquet at the Palace of Versailles during which he spoke of her close ties to France and told of the "firm friendship" between the nations.
The King and Queen were guests of honour at the star-studded dinner in the Hall of Mirrors, with Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger and actor Hugh Grant among the 160 guests who dined on lobster, Bresse chicken and cheese.
Speaking of the tributes paid in France to the Queen last September, the King told the president: "You said that she had touched your hearts – and it was she who held France in the greatest affection.”
In a speech spoken partly in French, the King said relations between the UK and France have not always been "straightforward" but went on to stress the unity between the nations.
Charles also mentioned the importance of Britain working with France to tackle climate change. He said: "Mr President, in all of this we can rely on our firm friendship. Whatever lies ahead, may it endure, faithful and constant, for centuries to come.”
Earlier, Charles gave Mr Macron a book containing photographs of the pair together, as well as a complete edition of French philosopher Voltaire's writings, during a visit to the Elysee Palace, the president's official residence. In return, Mr Macron gave the King a golden coin featuring Charles's portrait, as well as a prize-winning French novel.
They later planted an oak tree, also a gift from Mr Macron.
Though Charles only has an advisory role in British politics, the duo held a meeting in the president’s office at the Elysee, with topics discussed likely to have included the war in Ukraine, the coups in the Sahel as well as climate change, according to French officials.
The pair had arrived at the palace together by car, closely followed by the Queen and the president’s wife Brigitte Macron.
Driving down the Champs-Elysees in a French DS car, the foursome waved at the thin but cheering crowds that had gathered along the tree-lined boulevard. At one point, Charles and Mr Macron stood up through the open roof of the car to wave.
“I like the royal family, because it’s something out of reach, it makes you dream, they have a special status. And also for the gossip!” said Rozalie Zackova, a 28-year-old Czech who works in marketing in Paris.
The visit comes as French and British citizens feel the pinch of inflation at multi-decade highs, and the dinner at Versailles, a symbol of privilege, has been criticised by some as insensitive.
“The French complain all the time, anyway,” shrugged Marie-Noelle Ahanso, a 62-year-old employee, whose only complaint was that Charles was not driving down the Champs-Elysees in a carriage – which she said would have allowed well-wishers to see him better.
The couple had landed at Paris Orly airport, where they were greeted with a guard of honour from the Republican Guard, which is part of the French National Gendarmerie.
They then attended a ceremony of remembrance and wreath-laying at the Arc de Triomphe in the centre of the capital.
Charles symbolically lit the monument's eternal flame, which burns in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars. It was the first time in 30 years the ceremony had been included in a state visit.
The French and British national anthems were played and there was a flypast by the Patrouille de France and Red Arrows before the couples travelled down the Champs-Elysees by car.
The majority of the original royal programme has been retained but a few new elements have been added, including the Queen and Ms Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
Charles will become the first British monarch to give a speech from France's senate chamber on Thursday.
Other highlights include the royal couple meeting sports stars as France hosts the Rugby World Cup.
When the couple later travel to Bordeaux, home to 39,000 Britons, they will meet UK and French military personnel to hear about how the two nations are collaborating on defence.
The planned tour in March was to be their first state visit, but it was postponed at the last minute after violent nationwide demonstrations by those opposed to Mr Macron's retirement age reforms. Bordeaux's town hall was set on fire by protesters just a few days before the trip was due to begin.