Macron travels to London on his first overseas trip since the coronvirus lockdown

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Macron’s crossing of the English Channel was fraught with ceremony. There were overflights, first in Paris and then in London, carried out by Alpha planes from the Patrouille de France and Red Arrows from the Royal Air Force.

In a speech in central London, Macron praised Britain for supporting the French resistance, including giving it their “first weapon, a BBC microphone” which was used by de Gaulle to give his address.

But the demands of social distancing added a level of complication and awkwardness to all events organized by scene.

Britain requires a two-week quarantine period for most people entering the country, and Macron’s delegation was to receive a special waiver for the short visit on Thursday.

The two leaders Macron met – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles – were among the most prominent people to contract the coronavirus. Johnson battled the virus for almost two weeks and spent several nights in an intensive care unit.

Macron was greeted Thursday at Clarence House in London by Prince Charles, alongside his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who are coming out of isolation for months due to the pandemic.

Charles, 71, said this week that he hadn’t fully recovered from his sense of smell after contracting the virus in March, the BBC reported.

The socially distanced date and a cup of English tea marked the first time that members of the royal family have organized a face-to-face “engagement”, as such events are called, since the lockdown began in March. .

Macron later met Johnson at 10 Downing Street, where Johnson was to give his French counterpart framed copies of the telegrams exchanged between de Gaulle and Winston Churchill on V-E day, said Johnson’s office.

But the pandemic – and in particular the travel issue – was likely to arise during the bilateral discussion between the two leaders.

On Monday, France joined a large part of Europe to officially reopen its borders. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not require more than 14 days of quarantine for most new arrivals from the European Union. France will gradually reopen its borders to travelers outside the EU. from July 1st.

For now, in response to Britain’s general quarantine, France is asking visitors to the UK to voluntarily quarantine for two weeks.

The French president should ask Johnson to review the quarantine policy of the British government, especially given the imbalance in the death toll between the two countries. France had 29,575 deaths from coronavirus on Thursday, while Britain had 42,153.

The bilateral meeting also hovered over the issue of France’s growing frustrations over the failure of the Brexit talks, although Macron seemed likely not to spread these concerns for a future EU. meeting.

During a ceremony at Carlton Gardens, near a statue of de Gaulle, Macron thanked London for its support during the war and awarded the highest level of merit in his country, the Legion of Honor, to the capital British.

It was given to Charles, who greeted Macron with a gesture of namaste.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told the BBC on Thursday that despite all the disputes between the two countries over Brexit and quarantine, there is really nothing like the neighbors .

McAuley reported from Paris.

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