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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Holly Evans

The French connection: King and Queen cheered as they greet mayor of Bordeaux on final day of state visit

Daniel Leal/PA

The King and Queen were met with cheers during a visit to Bordeaux, signalling a successful end to their three-day state visit to France in which they reaffirmed the nations’ close ties.

The royal couple were in high spirits as they touched down at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport, ahead of a jam-packed schedule that saw them enjoy an electric tram ride and a taste of organic red wine.

They also attended a reception on the flight deck of HMS Iron Duke, before visiting a festival-style event in the main square and visiting an experimental forest to learn how it is recording the effects of climate change.

The royal couple signing the visitor book at the Hotel de Ville
— (Hannah McKay/PA)

Arriving at 12.45pm, they were greeted by French minister of defence, Monsieur Sebastien Lecornu, and taken to the Hotel de Ville, or city hall, one of its most iconic locations.

Wearing a turquoise Anna Valentine coat dress with the late Elizabeth II’s diamond brooch, Camilla was seen smiling as she greeted crowds of well-wishers who had gathered outside and accepted a bouquet of flowers.

Locals were seen waving French and Union Jack flags while many shouted “God Save The King”. Famous for its wine, Bordeaux is also home to around 39,000 Britons and is twinned with Bristol.

The royal couple then met the mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees and his Bordeaux counterpart Pierre Hurmic before being shown a memorandum of understanding between the two cities.

Inside, they viewed an exhibition of photos from the King’s last visit in 1977, as well as memorabilia and pictures from Elizabeth II’s state visit in 1992.

After signing the town hall’s guest book, they were taken to the garden to plant a loquat leaf oak tree, with Charles giggling as Camilla poured water on the plant, before praising “very good”.

The King and Queen sampling cheese at a festival-style event showcasing the best of British and French local produce
— (Daniel Leal/PA)

A drinks reception aboard a Royal Navy Type 23 Frigate followed to highlight the defence ties between the two countries, with foreign secretary James Cleverly and his wife also in attendance.

As they crossed the gangway, a 35-person band of the Royal Marines played while the Royal Standard was raised on board.

Accepting a glass of Pimms, the King was seen mingling with guests that included an array of French officials, representatives of the British and French armed forces and various sports and business people.

While posing for a photograph at the back of the ship, the King donned his sunglasses to watch a flypast, which saw two French Rafales soar past.

The HMS Iron Duke sailed from London to Bordeaux on Tuesday and is expected to return this weekend. In 2008, Prince William spent several weeks aboard the boat as part of his two-month attachment with the Royal Navy.

Charles greeting British veterans during a visit to Bordeaux
— (Daniel Leal/PA)

After boarding an electric tram, Charles and Camilla wandered around the Place de la Bourse to visit a festival celebrating the best of French and British local produce.

The King was even seen enjoying a glass of whiskey, made from his own barley, as well as a glass of organically made red wine while talking with stall owners.

They parted ways for a short period during the late afternoon, with the King visiting an experimental forest while the Queen visited a charity before they reconvened at a sustainable vineyard.

The royal couple’s trip started on Wednesday with a ceremony at Arc de Triomphe in Paris and a lavish state dinner at the Palace of Versailles attended by Sir Mick Jagger and Hugh Grant.

Both royals were seen giggling as they planted a tree in the City Hall garden
— (Hannah McKay/PA)

Both said they were “enormously touched” to be given a “magnificent welcome” after their initial trip in March was postponed due to riots.

On the second day of their state visit, the Queen and the French first lady, Brigitte Macron, launched a new Franco-British literary prize and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, before bonding over a hilarious game of table tennis.

The couple also visited a Paris flower market named after the late Queen and met with athletes ahead of Paris hosting the Olympics next summer.

A presentation was held at Notre Dame to review the ongoing renovation work, with the King stating he had been “utterly appalled by the scenes of such devastation following the catastrophic fire”.

In a historic Senate address to round off the day, he vowed that the UK will “always be one of France’s closest allies and best friends” in an impressive speech which saw him flit between English and fluent French.

His address, in which he branded global warming “our most existential challenge”, saw him receive a lengthy standing ovation from French lawmakers.

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