PARIS (AP) — France rolled out the red carpet for the state visit of King Charles III to one of its most magnificent and emblematic monuments: the Palace of Versailles, which turns 400 years old.
King Charles and Queen Camilla’s three-day visit to Paris and Bordeaux, starting Wednesday, includes a gala dinner with 150 guests in the Hall of Mirrors.
The palace has just opened to the public the gallery, whose history dates back to its creation as a modest hunting lodge in 1623 and was the scene of crucial diplomatic events of the last century, as well as visits by Charles’s predecessors.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Wednesday’s dinner is reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit in 1972, when she was received at the palace by President Georges Pompidou. King Charles loved the idea of following in his mother’s footsteps, according to Macron’s office.
Elizabeth II visited the palace also in 1958 and 10 years before, when she was not yet queen.
Catherine Pégard, president of the Palace of Versailles, praised the “endless history” of the palace, which “includes visits from French children who come to Versailles with their classes, as well as visits from His Majesty the King of England or tourists coming from Asia and are less familiar with the history.”
“And we each have a story to tell,” he told the Associated Press.
Usually packed with a chaotic crowd of photo-taking tourists from around the world, the Hall of Mirrors will be closed to the public on Wednesday in preparation for the royal banquet. No details of the menu have been released, which according to the presidency will serve as a showcase for French cultural and gastronomic excellence.
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