Queen asked me to play The Beatles, ex-French president Hollande says

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FILE PHOTO: France's former President Francois Hollande attends a ceremony in March 2022

PARIS (Reuters) -Ex-French President Francois Hollande recalled on Saturday how Queen Elizabeth had once asked him with her slight English accent for the Republican Guards' orchestra to play The Beatles during a state dinner.

Hollande hosted Queen Elizabeth in June 2014 for a three-day state visit that marked the 70th anniversary commemorations of the allied D-Day landings in World War Two.

"She talked about being a friend of France and her taste for French culture and generally for the Arts," Hollande, who was president until 2017, said.

"At one point, the Republican Guard was playing some classical music and I asked her what she would like and she said: can they play The Beatles? So the orchestra played several songs by The Beatles," Hollande told Reuters, referring to the military unit which provides guards of honour at official ceremonies.

The former president was at the British embassy with his actress wife Julie Gayet to mark his respects following the death of the British monarch.

"That was the Queen. She could be stern ... but also she had a lot of humanity. She was a woman who had a knowledge of France, the French language which she spoke to perfection, while adding a slight accent to remind us of her origins," he said.

"She wanted to keep the link between France and Great Britain beyond that which separated us such as Brexit. She was there to show that the link between France and Great Britain could not be broken."

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by John Irish; Editing by David Holmes)