King Charles today risked fueling further claims he is wading into politics after announcing his European tour – days after his Windsor tea meeting with EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen.
King Charles will become the first British monarch in history to address the French senate later this month as part of state visits to France and Germany.
The choice of the two European nations is widely seen as an attempt to build post-Brexit bridges and acknowledge the affection the late Queen Elizabeth II had for France.
Today’s announcement follows Charles’s meeting with Ms von der Leyen at Windsor Castle on Monday – less than two hours after she signed off on changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol four miles from His Majesty’s Berkshire home.
Charles and his wife Camilla will be in France from March 26 to March 29, and will join President Emmanuel Macron (right) for a ceremony of remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
King Charles III shook hands with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during an audience at Windsor Castle on Monday
The King and his wife Camilla will make their first state visits to EU heavyweights France and Germany, Buckingham Palace confirmed today
It came amid a clash between the palace and No10 over the ‘constitutionally unwise’ meeting.
One senior Tory told MailOnline that the King’s visits were part of a ‘charm offensive’ under way with the EU.
They acknowledged that the meeting with Ursula von der Leyen last week – criticised by the DUP and some Tories as too connected to the Windsor Framework announcement – had been ‘clumsy’.
But the veteran Conservative said the fact that it blow over quickly showed that Mr Sunak had ‘space’ after the relatively warm reception for the package.
‘It was clumsy but it wasn’t as messy as it might have been. To some extent that is a reflection… things that previously would have been massive headlines, Rishi does another gaffe – he’s bought himself space.’
The Tory grandee said they were detecting ‘more optimism’ about relations with the EU, and the King’s visit would help. ‘It is a charm offensive… it could have not worked, but because of the circumstances we find ourselves in it will work – because people are willing to listen.’
They added: ‘There is more optimism. There are little straws in the wind… There is a sense that Rishi has not only unlocked communications with the British public but with Berlin.’
Charles and Camilla will travel to the French capital Paris and then continue onwards to Berlin in Germany during a six-day visit which begins on March 26, ahead of the King’s coronation on May 6.
Aspects of the trip reflect what are believed to be the wishes of the host countries to mark the historic visits of the nation’s new head of state.
The King will be the first British monarch to give a speech from France’s senate chamber, to senators and national assembly members, and the first UK sovereign to address German politicians from the Bundestag.
Charles and Camilla will be in France from March 26 to March 29, and will join President Emmanuel Macron for a ceremony of remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The King will make an address at the French Senate, while Camilla and the French first lady Brigitte Macron will officially open the new Manet and Degas exhibition at the Musee d’Orsay.
The royal couple will then be guests of honour at a state banquet hosted by the Macrons at the Palace of Versailles, and will also pay a visit to Bordeaux in southwestern France.
While there, Charles will ‘witness first-hand the devastation caused by last summer’s wildfires’ on the outskirts of Bordeaux and visit an organic vineyard, the palace said.
The visit will take place shortly after a first trip to France by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on March 10 for a bilateral summit.
Rishi Sunak was accused of dragging King Charles III into politics with the monarch meeting EU chief Ursula von der Leyen at Windsor Castle this week
The trip will mark the king’s 35th official visit to France, and 29th official visit to Germany.
His mother Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, last undertook state visits to France and Germany in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Elizabeth, who was a fluent French speaker, made five state visits to France during her reign, in addition to numerous private visits.
Her first visit to France was in 1948 as the 22-year-old Princess Elizabeth.
In 1957, when she returned to France as queen, thousands lined the streets to cheer her as she travelled through the streets of the capital.
‘Look at our Parisians, how much they love you,’ president Rene Coty told her.
On her last state visit to France in 2014, she joined 1,800 World War II veterans and 18 heads of state and government, including the US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing.
A Macron aide has previously said the visit would illustrate the ‘age-old attachment of his country to ours, beyond Brexit.’
It would also be a sign of ‘family continuity, because Elizabeth II was a Francophile and a Francophone’, the aide told Le Parisien newspaper.
Macron himself paid tribute to Britain’s late monarch following her death in September 2022.
In a message to the British people, he recalled a ‘great head of state’ and a ‘unique example of devotion to her people, and a very close ally’.
‘With her, France and the United Kingdom shared not just an ‘entente cordiale’, but a warm, sincere and loyal partnership,’ he added.
Charles will head to Berlin on March 29, and undertake engagements there and in Brandenburg before heading to Hamburg, the palace added.
The royal couple are due to receive a ceremonial welcome by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Brandenburg Gate and will be guests of honour at a state banquet, hosted by the President and his wife.
The king will also make a speech in the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, a first for a British monarch, and will also meet refugees recently arrived from Ukraine.