In recent weeks, like many of you, my thoughts have been with Her Majesty The Queen. The sad news of the death of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was marked the world over and reminded us what a remarkable life he lived, dedicated to the service of his Queen, his country and his family.
Thank you to all of you who have sent messages to the Embassy, which have been very much appreciated.
My team and I have enjoyed sharing memories of the Queen and the Duke’s many visits here (most recently in 2014) and looking back at photos from our archives. You may not know that the Duke began his education here in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud and spoke excellent French – or that the then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke’s first visit overseas as a married couple was to Paris in 1948.
Since I last wrote, we have of course been back in a national lockdown. Perhaps you have returned to a few weeks of home schooling, maybe you are working remotely or your business may be temporarily closed.
I know that, especially for those living alone, or missing family and friends in the UK, this will have been a difficult time. We continue to support you as much as we can with information and travel advice, so please follow our social media pages to stay up to date.
It remains a tough time, I know, but as the vaccine campaigns make headway both at home and here in France, I hope we can look forward – through what remains of the spring and towards the summer – with the hope of restrictions gradually easing. We will continue to keep you informed of the developing situation in both France and the UK.
In May, France will mark the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death. My residence – bought by the Duke of Wellington in 1814 – has many connections to Napoleon, having belonged to his sister Pauline Borghese. The house and its contents retain a sense of that time. We look forward to sharing stories about it.
I must also remind you that there are now just two months left to apply for residency under the Withdrawal Agreement. If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time! I know lots of you have found it a smooth process – the latest Interior Ministry figures show that more than 125,000 Brits in France have already applied.
Please keep a sharp eye out for emails from your prefecture since responding promptly to requests for further information will help them process your application as quickly as possible. For those who need more help making an application, the UK Nationals Support Fund organisations can assist – see our online Living in France guide. I know many of you are frustrated by the continuing uncertainty around driving licences and I understand how difficult this is making things.
The Embassy and the UK Department for Transport are working hard to finalise an agreement between the UK and France which will cover the recognition and exchange of licences.
I would like to reassure you that our priority is reaching a pragmatic agreement that will provide certainty to those of you who have been unsure about the future of your driving rights in France. We will share details as soon as we can in our Living in France guide, on social media and in The Connexion.
Just a final reminder from me that for any questions on visas or the 90-day rule, please check France Travel Advice, and especially the French Embassy in London’s website.
I’ll close by wishing you all a very pleasant May. As the days get longer, I hope they will be a reminder that brighter times are on the way.