My whole life, up to now, has been lived with Queen Elizabeth on the throne. To put it simply, she has always been there. There are many things that I could criticise about the monarchy, but I think the Queen was an amazing woman, not only in terms of her work ethic but also the way in which she has been a constant in this ever-changing world.
I have always been fascinated by how much the French loved the Queen and by their avid interest in the Royal Family. My most recent English conversation students, in Castelnaudary, were delighted to discuss our Royal Family at every opportunity. I sometimes thought they knew more about our monarchy than I did! I would always tease them by implying that the reason they loved the Royal Family so much was because they had guillotined all of theirs…
It was interesting to see how the French newspapers reacted to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. One newspaper ‘Le Parisien’ dedicated the whole of their front page to the former monarch, with the words: ‘Nous l’avons tant aimée’ which means: ‘We loved her so much’.
The Libération newspaper also devoted its cover to the Queen with a black and white photograph taken by Cecil Beaton in 1968. The accompanying words included: ‘La peine d’Angleterre’. This was a play on the words ‘reine’, meaning ‘queen’ and ‘peine’ which means sorrow.
President Macron wrote a tribute to the Queen, including these words: “She held a special status in France and a special place in the hearts of the French people. No foreign sovereign has climbed the stairs of the Élysée Palace more often than she, who honoured France with six state visits and met each of its presidents.’
The Queen visited France more than any other overseas country, during her reign. Her very first trip to Paris was in 1948, aged twenty-two, a few months after her wedding. Of course, she was still Princess Elizabeth at this time. In the clip below, she speaks in French, as well as English.
In another exert, from June 6th, 2014, the Queen is shown giving a speech at the State Banquet in the Élysée Palace in Paris. Again, she speaks in French, and I think that her accent has improved or perhaps she has become more confident with age!
As well as state visits, the Queen enjoyed holidays in France and was very much a fan of French equestrian traditions. She visited stud farms and watched races when in France. For the Jubilee celebrations, she was even given a horse by France. I think it would be fair to say that the Queen loved France, as much as the French (perhaps not all of them – France is a Republic, after all) loved her.
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