French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday on her Platinum Jubilee through a video address shared on social media.
The 96-year-old queen celebrates 70 years on the throne, the longest reign of any British monarch to date. Sunday officially marked the date seven decades ago when Elizabeth was crowned the queen of the UK and 14 Commonwealth realms. A grand coronation took place on June 2, 1953 when Queen Elizabeth was only 27 years old.
In the nearly two-and-a-half-minute address, Macron spoke to the queen in English, finishing the last few sentences in French – in which the queen is fluent.
“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others. Celebrating you today is to celebrate the sincere and deep friendship that unites our two countries and your devotion to it. Your majesty, it is my privilege to extend to you, on behalf of the French people, my heartfelt congratulations on your Platinum Jubilee.”
Macron started by noting that their two countries had experienced very few constants, but that times had changed. “Europe has evolved. Our continent is again experiencing war,” he said. “Throughout these transformations, your devotion to our alliance and to our friendship has remained and has helped build the trust that brought freedom and prosperity to our continent.”
Despite the plaudits and Macron’s clear admiration, the UK and France have experienced many challenges especially over the last few years, most notably in Brexit, the UK’s exiting from the EU on Jan. 31, 2020 that resulted in a whole host of difficulties over trade and business affairs.
Disputes over fishing rights in the waters surrounding the Channel Islands in the English Channel off the coast of France had been ongoing over the past year. French fishermen were denied access to the waters monitored by the UK government, which claimed licenses permitting their presence there were insufficient.
In protest, a blockade was put on all vessels entering the port of Calais, France in November. The issue was settled at end of 2021, with the UK and Channel Island governments issuing 83 additional licenses.
The recent debacle at the Stade de France over the Champions League final on Saturday has posed another challenge to UK-France relations. The sports stadium outside Paris was the sight of the last game between rivals Liverpool and Real Madrid but quickly became a scene of chaos as fans were denied entry over tickets that failed to work and police resorting to using pepper spray and teargas to quell the disturbance.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has been outspoken in his defense of police actions in the days since but was called to testify in front of France’s Senate alongside the Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera on Wednesday evening. Darmanin apologized for the chaos, saying the event could have been “better organized.” The hearing came on the heels of the Liverpool football club demanding an apology on Tuesday from Oudea-Castera.
Macron nonetheless recognizes the strength that France and the UK maintain, remarking on the repeated visits the queen has made to France over the years, including her visits to pay respects to the graves of fallen soldiers on French shores, calling her “a constant presence” and “a source of wisdom for the leaders of our two countries.”
“You are the golden thread that binds our two countries, the proof of the unwavering friendship between our nations,” Macron said.