British Ambassador to France: Early signs of brighter days

Every month the British Ambassador to France, Ed Llewellyn, shares an insight into his role. Here, read his column for March 2021

24 February 2021
By Ed Llewellyn

In last month’s column, I included some photos I took of Paris in the snow, and I hope you will indulge me another I took of the city, once again in a cold snap.

The days are growing longer, if not necessarily warmer, reminding us that it has been almost a year since our lives in France, the UK, and around the world were changed by the pandemic.

To help prevent the spread of new variants of the Covid virus, both the UK and France have introduced new restrictions and are keeping measures under constant review. To keep up to date with the latest travel advice, visit Foreign Travel Advice for France.

Due to the duration of the pandemic, we have now celebrated almost every holiday in the calendar in a novel way, usually online.

Most recently, the Embassy ran a virtual Burns Night. Although I missed the chance to host a dinner and ceilidh in person, I was still able to don my kilt in honour of the Scottish side of my family.

I enjoyed hearing Scottish musicians play and my colleagues recite the odes to the haggis and more. Please enjoy the clips on our social media channels.

I am looking forward to beginning March with my colleagues from the Welsh government and celebrating St David’s Day. This may include a short lesson in how to pronounce my surname properly!

March will also mark International Women’s Day on the 8th. We will host a webinar exploring the links between gender equality and protecting the environment. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, International Champion for COP26, will open the discussion and invite a range of other influential women, both British and French, to share their perspectives. We welcome you to register and join in, through updates on our social media.

The Prime Minister will be hosting an important virtual meeting of his fellow G7 leaders in February.

This will be part of a sequence of meetings in the run-up to the annual G7 summit in June, which the UK will be hosting in Cornwall.

In this initial meeting, which will also be President Biden’s first major multilateral engagement, the Prime Minister will lead a discussion on how the world can build back better from coronavirus.

I was delighted to hear 100,000 British citizens have already applied for a residency permit under the Withdrawal Agreement in France. On the other side of the Channel, more than five million EU citizens have applied for Settled Status in the UK. I would encourage anyone who is eligible and has not yet done so to start the process as soon as possible.

I know there have been some delays in the processing of applications, but reinforced prefectures continue to work as fast as they can. 

I would like to conclude with another photo, of the first flowers poking their heads above ground in the Residence garden: a reminder of brighter times ahead, and the importance of finding colour in these sometimes gloomy days.

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