During her historic 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II made a series of state visits that spanned the Commonwealth — and beyond. Five years after ascending to the throne, Her Majesty traveled to France in 1957, marking her first official visit as Queen of England.
Elizabeth II previously traveled to France in 1948, when she was still a princess. At the time, she was pregnant with Prince Charles, who would eventually succeed her as monarch.
On Wednesday, King Charles III and Queen Camilla make their first official visit to France as reigning royals. The couple originally intended to travel there in March, but they postponed their trip following mass protests surrounding President Emmanuel Macron’s new pension policy, which saw the retirement age raised from 62 to 64. During their visit, the king and queen are expected to spend time with President Macron and his wife, Brigitte, rebuilding a bond between the two countries that was damaged by Brexit.
Arrival at Orly
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip touched down in Paris on April 8. They were greeted by a large crowd upon their arrival at Élysée Palace, the official residence of the French president.
Night at the Opera
French President René Coty invited the royal couple to the Paris Opera, where they watched a performance of the ballet “Le Chevalier et la Damoiselle.” Following the show, the queen greeted lead dancers Liane Daydé and Michel Renaud.
For the occasion, Elizabeth wore a gown by Norman Hartnell, the designer behind her 1947 wedding dress. Hartnell’s beaded creation paid homage to France, featuring motifs of the country’s national flower, the iris, as well as Napoleon’s emblem, the bumblebee. The queen accessorized with the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara, which previously belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary of Teck. Elizabeth also wore the Delhi Durbar necklace, an extravagant collar consisting of diamonds and several large emeralds.
President Coty hosted a dinner in celebration of the queen’s visit. Approximately 3,000 guests were in attendance at the Louvre banquet, which took place in the Salle des Cariatides. Today, the wing houses Greek sculptures.
Her Majesty donned an emerald green gown along with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara. The diamond crown, purchased in 1898 as a wedding gift to Queen Mary, was crafted by the former crown jeweller, Garrard.
Accompanied by President Coty, the royal couple traveled along the Seine via yacht, where they enjoyed a fireworks display on the Pont Alexandre III.
Queen Elizabeth opted for a white beaded gown accessorized with a fur stole, as well as Queen Mary’s Fringe tiara, the same diamond crown she wore on her wedding day.
After exploring the grounds of France’s most exquisite chateau, a luncheon was held for the queen in the Hall of Mirrors. Her son, Charles, will also dine at the palace during his visit.