The term ‘Entente Cordiale’ is a familiar one, yet its meaning is often taken for
granted. Put simply, it refers to the pact signed on the 8 th of August 1904 to
bring to an end centuries of hostility between the UK and France. In the
aftermath of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, it has rarely seemed more
Since the announcement on the 8 th of September, some of us, including this
writer have been exploring various archives, watching in sheer incredulity at the
social changes that have taken place since 1952. Nearly five years after
succeeding George VI, the Queen paid her first official visit to France as the
Head of State. This black & white Pathé footage captures the young monarch
greeting President René Coty, at Orly Airport –

Looking at the newsreel, what is so striking is not so much the announcer’s
“gosh-golly” voiceover or even the Chapron-bodied Citroën 15/6H but the
Queen’s speech. The late monarch was fluent in French and her seventy-year
reign encompassed two Republics, meetings with nine Presidents and 30 to 40
visits to France.

And perhaps the most appropriate conclusion would be this 1948 footage of the
then Princess Elizabeth – –
and in the words of President Macron:

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.