(PARIS) — Prince William and Kate touched down in Paris Friday and kicked off a two-day charm offensive ahead of Brexit by meeting with French President Francois Hollande inside the Elysee Palace and attending a black-tie reception and dinner at the British Embassy.
William, 34, reassured the French in his speech at the ambassador’s residence that the partnership between Britain and France remains.
“This partnership will continue despite the United Kingdom’s recent decision to leave the European Union,” William said.
William and Kate, 35, will be front and center in Paris at a series of events to honor and celebrate the French for their resilience in the wake of the Paris and Nice terrorist attacks and to celebrate French arts and culture. The royal couple’s visit to Paris has enormous political significance in the wake of the U.K.’s Brexit decision to withdraw from the European Union.
William and Kate were greeted for a series of photographs outside the Elysee Palace before they met with President Hollande for bilateral discussions inside the palace. Hollande later escorted the couple around the terrace for a view of the grounds.
William joked with President Hollande that he will be “cheering the Welsh” on Saturday when the French take on Wales in rugby at Stade de France. William, who will attend the match with Kate, is royal patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, a position he took over from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in December 2016.
William famously showed his solidarity with the French people just days after the November 2015 terror attack in Paris, which targeted Stade de France. William attended the England versus France soccer match at London’s Wembley Stadium and sang the French national anthem in support.
The royal family has scheduled a series of visits to European countries in the months ahead — including William’s and Kate’s July visit to Germany and Poland — to remind Great Britain’s European neighbors that they are still allies and partners after last summer’s Brexit vote.
The couple is reportedly staying at the British ambassador’s residence during their visit. The residence, built in the 18th century, is one of the best known buildings in Paris and is located close to Elysee Palace.
On Saturday, William and Kate will also visit Les Invalides, a Paris landmark known for its golden dome that includes the Tomb of Napoleon, to highlight its work with veterans. They will also meet with survivors and first responders from the July 2016 terror attack in Nice, France, and the November 2015 terror attack in Paris.
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