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King Charles III makes first visit to France since Brexit

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Britain's King Charles is in France on a three-day state visit. His busy schedule includes meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, visiting Notre Dame and a grand dinner at Versailles. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has been watching and tells us more.

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UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) Long live our...

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: It's not often you hear a French military choir sing "God Save The King" under the Arc de Triomphe, but this day was all about welcoming King Charles to France.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: The live TV coverage began as soon as he stepped off the plane with Queen Camilla onto a red carpet at Orly Airport. The British monarch's visit to France last spring had to be postponed amidst protests over French retirement reform. Florence Faucher, an expert on French-British relations at Paris' Sciences Po university, says France was always meant to be King Charles' first overseas visit.

FLORENCE FAUCHER: This relationship is indeed symbolically extremely important. France and the U.K. have always had close yet complex relationships - a bit like siblings, I would say.

BEARDSLEY: After the ceremony with President Emmanuel Macron paying tribute to the millions of British and French soldiers who fought and died together in World War I, King Charles rode down the Champs-Elysees with Macron before a tete-a-tete at the Elysee Palace. The French media are gaga over the king. Charlie in Paris read the front page of newspaper Liberation.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking French).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: And as guests arrived at the dinner at Versailles, commentators dissected the Battle of Waterloo along with tonight's dinner menu. King Charles and Queen Camilla are joined by 350 guests, including Mick Jagger and Hugh Grant, who live in France. Analysts said the visit was also meant to mend hard feelings over Brexit.

FAUCHER: I think the U.K. is now at a stage where they seem to intend to reopen, possibly, discussions with the EU with a more leveled approach, and this is one of the means to demonstrate this.

BEARDSLEY: The conversation tonight will likely be in French, which King Charles speaks as well as Macron speaks English.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.