King Charles says UK will 'always be one of France's closest allies and best friends' in historic speech to Senate

The King has said the late Queen's "golden thread will forever shine brightly" in the first ever speech by a British monarch to the French Senate.

Addressing politicians from both the upper and the lower houses of parliament, the King said the UK will always be one of France's "best friends".

"Ours is a partnership forged through shared experience, and one which remains utterly vital as, together, we confront the challenges of our world," the King said in the speech, which he delivered in both English and French.

"Quite simply, the United Kingdom will always be one of France's closest allies and best friends."

He received a minute-long standing ovation from politicians in the chamber.

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Speaking less than two weeks after the first anniversary of his mother's death, the King thanked "the people of France for the great kindness you showed to us, and our people, at a time of such grief".

"When my mother died almost exactly one year ago, my family and I were moved beyond measure by the tributes that were paid to her across France.

"This morning, I read again the deeply touching words of condolence that Your Excellencies, Presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate, wrote at that time.

"You described Her late Majesty as having embodied the dignity of our own democracy and that as 'she loved France, France loved her'. I can hardly describe how much these words meant to me, and to my entire family," the King said.

"Inspired and encouraged by my grandmother's and my late mother's example, France has been an essential part of the fabric of my own life for as long as I can remember," he added on his 35th official visit to the country.

"Each and every time, I have been struck by the warmth of the welcome I have always received, and by the immense good that can be accomplished when France and the United Kingdom work together."

The monarch pledged to do "whatever I can to strengthen the indispensable relationship between the UK and France" - stressing its importance in tackling climate change and the war in Ukraine.

"Let us, therefore, cherish and nurture our entente cordiale," he said referring to an agreement signed between UK and France in 1904 to set aside rivalries.

"Let us renew it for future generations so that, I would like to propose, it also becomes an agreement for sustainability - in order to tackle the global climate and biodiversity emergency more effectively."

On foreign policy, he said: "Together we are unwavering in our determination that Ukraine will triumph."

The King also referenced comments made by General Charles de Gaulle from London in 1940 after the Battle of France.

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The monarch said: "Today, in confronting the greatest challenges of our time, we continue the work of those who came before us.

"When General de Gaulle spoke to the French people from London in June of 1940, he said, 'remember this, France does not stand alone. She is not isolated… she can make common cause with the British'."

A guard of honour lined the King's route to the Salle des Conferences where he met representatives from the Senate and National Assembly and signed the visitors' book.

While the King delivered his 18-minute speech, the Queen and Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, launched a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

This afternoon, the King and Queen will head to Saint-Denis, north of Paris, to meet community sports groups and stars as France hosts the Rugby World Cup - which the monarch touched upon in his historic speech.

He was greeted with a round of applause as he quipped "may the best win" between the French and English, Welsh and Scottish national teams competing in the tournament.

The royal couple, along with Mrs Macron, will then visit a coffee shop where they will meet beneficiaries of Objectif Emploi, an organisation in Saint-Denis that helps vulnerable young people to find careers, as well as meeting representatives from The Prince's Trust International.

The King will later visit the Paris flower market named after Queen Elizabeth II and rejoin Mr Macron - who he was with during a state banquet last night - in front of Notre Dame Cathedral to see the ongoing renovation work aimed at reopening the monument by the end of next year, after it was devastated by a fire in 2019.

He will end his trip on Friday with a stop in Bordeaux, the southwestern city that is home to a large British community.

The visit has been covered extensively by French media, while pictures of the visit appeared on the front page of nearly all UK national newspapers, heralding a new "entente cordiale" between the two nations.

The trip was previously postponed due to widespread rioting across several French cities in March.