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King Charles Calls to ‘reinvigorate’ Ties Between France and UK

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Britain's King Charles III, arrive for a state dinner, at the Chateau de Versailles, west of Paris, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. King Charles III of the United Kingdom starts a three-day state visit to France on Wednesday meant to highlight the friendship between the two nations with great pomp, after the trip was postponed in March amid widespread demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron's pension changes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS — Britain’s King Charles III urged France and the U.K. to revitalize ties Wednesday, as both countries seek to improve relations after several acrimonious years marked by Brexit negotiations. On the first day of a three-day state visit to France, the king said it was “incumbent upon us all to reinvigorate our friendship to ensure it is fit for the challenge of this, the 21st century.” Speaking at a banquet dinner hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, the king said he looked forward to a renewal of the Entente Cordiale between France and the U.K, an alliance which marks its 120th anniversary next year.

The British monarch did not mention Brexit directly but hinted at relations between the two countries that had not “always been entirely straightforward.” The banquet dinner was held in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, a venue long associated in France with privilege, absolute monarchy and the French Revolution. The banquet gathered together stars, business leaders and politicians from both sides of the Channel, including rock star Mick Jagger, former football manager Arsène Wenger and the world’s second richest man, Bernard Arnault.

During his toast, Macron said France and the U.K. would meet the future challenges of the modern world together despite the tensions created by Brexit. “Despite Brexit … I’m sure, your majesty, that we will continue to write part of the future of our continent together,” the French president said.