I had the great good fortune to participate in two very different ceremonies to commemorate this 11th of November a hundred years after the start of the First World War.
Two hundred years ago this week, the British Government paid Pauline Borghese 800,000 Francs for this wonderful house behind me, the Hôtel de Charost. And it has been the British Ambassadors’ Residence ever since then.
The British actress Emma Watson is a UN Ambassador for women’s issues and she made her first speech at the UN a few days ago, launching a campaign on gender equality. I think she put her finger on a very important point, which is that gender equality is not a woman’s issue, it’s a man’s issue.
Today I represented the UK at the commemoration of the Battle of the Marne, which raged for 5 days from 5 September 1914 and was one of the turning points of WW1. From the start of the War in early August, the German Armies advanced relentlessly across Belgium and into France. The French forces, and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that had come to join them, fell back under the … The Battle of the Marne
Rummaging in my library, I found the following blog-post left by my predecessor, with remarkable prescience, to be posted exactly 100 years later! It recounts a dramatic meeting that really did take place in the Residence on 1 September 1914 directly related to the conduct of the War, and in which my predecessor took a courageous stand. As he recounts… What a day it has been! I am leaving … Guest blog: Sir Francis Bertie meets Sir John French and Lord Kitchener in Paris
Now we’re in the summer season, millions of British people, literally, come to France every year, and almost everyone has a wonderful holiday. That’s obviously what we want in the Embassy as well.
I think one of the most important parts of my job as ambassador is to make sure that the links between Britain and France are continuing into the next generation.
We’ve just had an extraordinary few days here with the State Visit of Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh – but of course there’s a lot else happening in the world as well. I talked before about my foreign minister William Hague’s initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict. Well, the big summit in London is now underway. Four days focused on this crucial issue.
We’re three days away from the State Visit of Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Excitement is rising in the Embassy as we approach it. Why is this visit going to be so special? First of all, because the Queen stands for so much in the relationship between Britain and France.
Next week, we will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy, and, for the UK, we have the honour of Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in Normandy for 6 June, joined by HRH The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and briefly His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, and the Duchess of Cambridge. They will be going to … Commemorating D-Day: the past and the future