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‘We loved her so much’: France reacts to news of the Queen’s death

The Eiffel Tower did not sparkle last night, a British flag flies outside the Elysée and the French press have dedicated their coverage to the monarch

France has expressed its sadness at the death of Queen Elizabeth II Pic: Alessia Pierdomenico / Shutterstock

[Article updated on September 9 at 15:50 with the reaction of Monaco's Prince Albert II.]

The news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death has dominated French headlines since it was announced yesterday evening (September 8), and the state has taken several measures to pay homage to the monarch. 

President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in French and in English: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II embodied the British nation’s continuity and unity for over 70 years. 

“I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century.” 

He added in a statement that the Queen “loved France, which loved her back. The French people are also in mourning.” 

A British flag was placed outside the Elysée Palace and other flags will be flown at half-mast today (Friday, September 9) and on the day of the Queen’s funeral. 

The Eiffel Tower did not sparkle at midnight last night out of respect for the monarch’s death, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

President Macron also paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth in a video message in French and English this morning, and will send a letter to her son, King Charles III.

In the statement, he said: "Today, we are so sad. [The Queen's] wisdom and empathy have helped us all to steer a path through the historic ups and downs of the last seven decades. With her passing, we all feel an emptiness. 

"Millions of people around the world discovered the images of her coronation, and were immediately captivated by the young leader who already exhibited such strength and courage.

"Her rare and powerful words, her unwavering dignity made her the constant symbol of the United Kingdom. We are grateful for her deep affection for France; Elizabeth II mastered our language, loved our culture and touched her hearts."

A gift will also be offered for the coronation of the new sovereign. The Queen, for her part, was given a gold medal produced by the Paris mint. 

Since he was first elected in 2017, President Macron has not received the Queen at the Elysée, but has met her three times in the UK: once in June 2019 for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day preparations at Portsmouth, again in December 2019 at Buckingham Palace during a NATO summit and again in June 2021 in Cornwall for the G7 summit.

In all, the Queen knew 10 French presidents and travelled to France on official and unofficial visits on many occasions. 

Read more: Queen won hearts in France with first speech in French at 22

Read more: From Auriol to Macron: 10 French presidents of Queen’s 70-year reign

There exists a lasting fondness for the Queen in France, and General Charles de Gaulle once said that “French people have princely tastes but go to find [royalty] abroad”. 

Nearly six million French people watched Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021, according to  television presenter Stéphane Bern, who suggested that: “If the Royal Family is just as popular in France [as in the UK], it is because it embodies the symbolic power to unite a people, [a power] of which we are orphans.

“The Crown, which unites in diversity, seems to enable British people to find each other and create a community around the timeless values of their nation.”

Reacting to her death, Mr Bern said: “She was a global icon, a living page of history”. 

How the French press reacted to the news

The Queen’s death is the main story of British, but also of French newspapers today, with articles on her life, on her funeral preparations, on her family, on the new King Charles, on her ties with France, on her Platinum Jubilee and on the world’s reaction to yesterday’s news. 

Le Figaro’s front page is filled by a picture of the monarch, with the words: “Goodbye to the Queen: a rock for her kingdom”. 

The attached article states that the Queen’s reign will “go down in history”, and that “The UK is crying for its sovereign. Her death has provoked a wave of emotion across the whole world.” 

Le Parisien also went with a full page picture of the Queen, with the words: “We loved her so much”, and has dedicated its magazine supplement to stories about her life. 

Ouest France published a cartoon showing the Queen arriving in heaven, and Prince Philip waiting for her, saying: “My Queen”. 

Libération’s front page showed a young Queen with the words: “The suffering of England”, while the back page was filled with a picture of an older Queen wearing her crown, walking away from the camera. 

20 Minutes used the same image on its front page, accompanied by the words “Like a Queen”. 

“The most famous sovereign in the world draws to a close the longest reign in the history of England.”

La Croix went with “The life of a Queen”, with a picture of the monarch at her coronation and the words: “She represented her country with dignity, rooting her duty in her faith”. 

French television schedules were also interrupted last night for long coverage of the event and documentaries about the Queen’s life. 

Monaco pays tribute 

In Monaco, the flag at the Prince's Palace will be flying at half-mast until the Queen's funeral, and Prince Albert II has written to King Charles to say: "It is with profound sadness that My Family and I learned of the passing away of your beloved mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

"Allow me to convey to you, to the members of the Royal Family, and to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, my most heartfelt and sincere condolences for your loss at this time of great sorrow.

"Her Majesty’s unwavering commitment and dedication to duty during Her reign has always been extremely inspiring; It will be long remembered and admired.

"She truly represented the unity and dignity of the United Kingdom throughout the last seven decades. My Family and the people of Monaco join me in sending you our wholehearted thoughts and prayers."

Related articles 

France marks Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with Paris flame revival

Platinum Jubilee: how France fell in love with the Queen

Platinum Jubilee: French boy delighted with second card from the Queen

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