President Macron Gets it Pitch Perfect: Nous Sommes Avec Vous
Sydney Opera House Tribute

Despite Liz Truss’s dubious attempt to drum up old animosities between France and England during her campaign to become Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron quickly took to the high ground once it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died.

President Emmanuel Macron was pitch perfect

The Announcement by President of France – Emmanuel Macron

On the official website of the President of France, the announcement was as simple as it was poignant:

To you, she was your Queen.
To us, she was THE Queen.
She will be with all of us forever.
He added that she had, “mastered our language, loved our culture
and touched our hearts.

President Emanuel Macron

The Announcement by President of the USA – Joe Biden

President Biden’s long and rambling official condolences seemed quite flat and formal by comparison:

Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special.

President Joe Biden

The Queen and France: a long affair

The Queen’s love affair with France goes back a long way.

She inherited it from her mother who arranged for a Belgian countess to teach her young daughters French in the late thirties.

She has always been infatuated with France and the French have loved her back. Her mastery of their language was excellent, and her delivery flawless. On her numerous visits to France, she needed no translator, and always managed to stun the French with her decorum and radiance. Franco-British relations, she once observed are just like oil and vinegar.

Very different but you need them both to make a proper dressing. And a salad would not be a salad without both ingredients.

Queen Elizabeth II

Her first trip to France was only months after her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh, in November 1947.

Peace had shifted aside war in Europe, spring was in the air, Paris was looking splendid and Edith Piaf sang “La Vie en Rose” for the young couple at a nightclub. But her plans to see a Jean-Paul Sartre play were thwarted by the Embassy, as being “too politically radical.” And although it wasn’t common knowledge at the time, she was already pregnant with her first son, Charles.

Queen Elizabeth II: honoured France with visits many times

She has honoured France on six subsequent state visits and met each one of its presidents.

Her grasp of the important role she has been able to play using ‘soft touch diplomacy’ is a sterling asset. And the UK has often needed it in Paris. She visited France in 1957 to reaffirm Franco-British ties following the Suez crisis. And again in 1972 to reassure a suspicious George Pompidou and his country about the UK’s entry into Europe.

We are not driving on the same side of the road,” she told him, “but we are going in the same direction.”

The Queen was naturally present to cut the red ribbon alongside French President Francois Mitterrand at the terminal near Calais to inaugurate the Channel Tunnel in 1994. An act that once and for all bridged the physical gap between the two countries.

In 2004, Queen Elizabeth was in France again to mark the centenary of the entente cordiale. At an Elysée banquet, she underlined once more the special relationship between Britain and France, saying the two countries are linked by “this unique blend of friendship, good-humoured rivalry, and admiration. Vive la difference and vive l’entente cordiale!”

French media coverage of the Queen’s death has been astounding

resident Macron Gets it Pitch Perfect: Nous Sommes Avec Vous

It provoked an unexpectedly emotional response reflecting a long-held and profound affection for the British monarch.

Some say this outpouring of affection is indicative of the French not being entirely over the loss of their own monarchy. Although the country is solidly republican, and they certainly don’t want kings and queens back, but they do miss and envy British pomp and ceremony. And the perceived stability and continuity that surrounds a head of state who is not political.

The left-of-centre Libération devoted its entire front page to a 1968 Cecil Beaton black and white photograph with the words “La peine d’Angleterre

– a play on the words queen and sorrow, followed by a 17-page special edition.

resident Macron Gets it Pitch Perfect: Nous Sommes Avec Vous

The centre-right Le Figaro also carried a large photo of the Queen with the headline, “L’adieu à la reine. The United Kingdom cries for its monarch.”

Le Parisien dedicated its front page to the Queen. “Nous l’avons tant aimée.

Its thirteen-page coverage included photographs of Elizabeth II meeting every French president since Charles de Gaulle. “Une love story avec la France.”

Le Monde also featured a wonderful photograph of the Queen on the front page, which was followed by a 12-page special supplement.

Queen Elizabeth II – naturally media savvy from a young age

Her first radio broadcast, at just 14 when she addressed British children at the start of World War II. This puts her ahead of almost everyone who can be called media savvy.

And her coronation — broadcast live for eight straight hours by the BBC in 1953 — was the first major event of the television age.

It is said to have marked TV becoming part of our daily lives.

The Queen was fluent in French

resident Macron Gets it Pitch Perfect: Nous Sommes Avec Vous

The Queen’s fluency in French and her deft-touch diplomacy came to the rescue in 1960 when Yvonne and Charles de Gaulle were staying at Buckingham Palace.

Madame de Gaulle, who spoke little English, was asked what she was most looking forward to when her husband retired.

Accents can sometimes play havoc with meaning, and the entourage was stunned when she replied:

“A penis.”

The correct pronunciation of an “h” in English is a notorious trap for French speakers because in their language it is invariably not pronounced.

An awkward silence ensued.

But fortunately, the Queen read the situation perfectly.

She’d fully understood exactly what the French first lady was getting at. And Her Majesty saved the day by jumping into the breech, and adding with a broad grin:

Ah, of course. We’re all looking for happiness.

Queen Elizabeth II

A New Era Begins

King Charles III has been set a fine example by his mother—but he’ll be put to the test—it will be a hard act to follow.

What are your opinions? In relation to the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III? How do you see the future? Please share in the comments below.

About the Contributor

Ray Johnstone

Ray is an artist & writer. His favourite subjects are nudes and portraits. Art holidays for groups & families are catered for in their 800-year-old house La Petite Galerie in Gascony. They also take up to 6 walkers on the 'best bits' of the Pilgrims Route to Compostela. Check out Ray's 100+ articles - he has his own column called 'Perspectives'

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