Almost nine million people in France watched the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla this weekend with several French television channels screening the event.
The ceremony attracted 70% of the audience on French channels that showed it and there were two million more spectators than for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
Several French people who watched it on TV have told The Connexion team that they were “moved” by the occasion, which attracted significant coverage in the French press as it did around the world.
Embassy marked occasion with special viewing
The British Embassy in Paris marked the occasion with a special big screen viewing at the Ambassador’s Residence, with a ‘Coronation quiche’, smoked salmon and scrambled egg brunch followed by an afternoon tea with cakes and scones.
The Connexion attended along with French schoolboy Noé Patrel, eight, from Normandy, who has written and spoken to us on several previous occasions of his love for the British Royal Family and his correspondence with royalty.
We also enjoyed meeting friends and contacts old and new including British Ambassador Menna Rawlings, Christopher Chantrey of the British Community Committee of France (BCC), the chaplain of Saint George's Anglican Church, Paris, the Rev. Mark Osborne, and the vice president of the National Assembly’s Franco-British friendship group, Constance le Grip.
Noé told us he enjoyed watching the Coronation and meeting Dame Menna, drinking English tea and seeing the Residence – including its garden and the grand bedroom of former owner Napoleon’s sister Pauline.
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte were among the invitees in Westminster Abbey for the Coronation, which was described by Le Monde as “a Christian ceremony full of pomp and solemnity”.
Positive reactions reported in French press
The French relayed mostly enthusiastic quotes from the crowds in London, with Charles and Camilla said to be “doing their best to show more modern ideas,” according to one Briton interviewed by Europe 1. Another said: “They form a team, and the country is going to get behind them. We’ve got to move forward now. We applaud them because they’re our monarchs.”
“I adored every minute,” was one headline on the website of BFMTV, while Le Figaro noted that “service to others” was stressed in the ceremony. It also wrote about the King’s wish to include other religions in the ceremony and the fact that the guest list had been based more on merit than titles, with many “exemplary figures from civil society.”
Le Monde noted how women bishops took part in the liturgy for the first time and “the dignitaries carrying the royal insignia reflected the diversity of origins of the British”.
Royalty magazine Point de Vue said Charles was likely to be a king who would focus more than his mother on closeness to the people, “benevolence and a certain simplicity”, as opposed to his mother’s “iconic and almost deified image”.
A French attendee called the day “super and very festive” in Le Figaro, which also ran a punning headline inspired by street party celebrations in the UK, calling it the fête (royale) des voisins (a play on France’s annual 'neighbours' festival' and also the fact that the UK is a neighbour to France).
Among other points the French press, however pondered Prince Harry’s rapid departure and low-key attendance, considered whether the British have a ‘nostalgia for the Empire’ (Le Monde) and raised questions over whether this might be the last coronation of such a formal and traditional kind (Gala).
‘Historic day under a perfectly British rain’
Le Monde wrote of “a historic day under a perfectly British rain” in an article which also noted some arrests of Republication protestors, while Le Figaro also quoted disapproval from far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon of Les Insoumis who said it made him feel "queasy" to see “all this song and dance about a man covered up in fancy dress, jewels and precious stones.”
Other than the British Embassy event, “a big picnic” in the Somme, with British foods such as Victoria sandwich cake and scones, was among festivities reported from the Coronation day in France.
The British Association of the Côte d'Opale also held a picnic, while Paris’s Standard Athletic Club organised a grande fête, the English-speaking community celebrated in Chantilly at the Polo Club and the Association France-Grande Bretagne, Quercy had a Coronation garden party yesterday.
The BCC is still selling tickets for its forthcoming Coronation cocktail party at Paris’s Les Salons Hoches on May 22.
Noé meanwhile is hoping for a response to his latest royal letter, congratulating the King and he has also written to Dame Menna, to whom he presented flowers at the Residence on Coronation Day. He recently received a thank-you card from Prince William and Princess Catherine, for a letter of condolences on the Queen’s death.