King Charles calls for climate action in historic address to French Senate

King Charles on Thursday used a historic speech in France to call for more action to combat climate change – describing it as “the greatest existential threat of all”.

Charles told the Paris Senate on Thursday morning: ‘We must stand together to protect against global warming, climate change and the catastrophic destruction of nature.’

It came as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watered down Britain’s commitments to tackle climate change, delaying targets for the British public switching to more ecological-minded cars and domestic heating.

While there was no direct criticism of his own government, Charles called for a reform of the Entente Cordiale – the name of the traditional ‘cordial alliance’ between France and Britain – so it can become a green “Entente of Sustainability”.

The King’s speech was the first by a British monarch inside the debating chamber of the Senate – the Upper House of the French Parliament.

The highlight of His Majesty’s ongoing State Visit to France with Queen Camilla came exactly 231 years since the founding of the French republic – an anniversary that is traditionally devoted to revolutionary triumphalism.

But, speaking in French and English inside the Luxembourg Palace on Thursday morning, Charles was determined to impress a combined audience of Senators, and MPs from the nearby National Assembly.

“I am very touched by your presence here today because the longevity of your democracy is embodied by this august chamber, and it is reflected in the enduring friendship between our people,’ said Charles.

“Our partnership is formed through shared experience. Quite simply, the United Kingdom will always be one of France’ s closet allies and best friends.”

Dressed in a lounge suit with tie, the King was roundly clapped during a lengthy standing ovation in the Chamber, when he entered at 11am.

Elizabeth II, King Charles’s mother, made a speech in a conference room inside the Senate in 2004, but did not actually appear inside the hemicycle debating chamber.

King Charles addresses the Senate (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
King Charles addresses the Senate (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Referring to President Emmanuel Macron’s glowing tribute to her after she died last September, Charles said: ‘President Macron described my mother as “the golden thread that binds our nations.

“We were moved beyond measure by the tributes that were paid to her across France…She embodied the dignity of our democracies. I can hardly describe how much these words meant to me and my entire country.

“In the rich and complex tapestry of the relationship between France and Britain, my mother’s golden thread will always shine brightly.

“Let it inspire us all to continue the relationship between the two countries with determination, hope and love.”

An etiquette note had been prepared for all French parliamentarians attending the speech, saying they were not obliged to bow or curtsy.

The founding of the First French Republic in 1792 also saw France abolish its monarchy.

King Charles meets residents after visiting the flower market (AP)
King Charles meets residents after visiting the flower market (AP)

This was the year before the country beheaded its last legitimate King, Louis XVI, along with Queen Marie-Antoinette, at the height of the French Revolution.

Following the historic speech the King and Queen have continued to carry out engagements on the second day of their state visit to France.

Queen Camilla and President Macron's wife, Brigitte, tried their hand at table tennis at a sports centre outside Paris.

Charles received a football shirt from French soccer team Paris Saint-Germain, bearing his name and the number three, in a nod to his title King Charles III.

Club President Nasser Al-Khelaifi presented the shirt to the king, as he continued his visit in Saint-Denis.

Queen Camilla tries her hand at weaving (PA)
Queen Camilla tries her hand at weaving (PA)

Camilla also tried her hand at weaving at French luxury house Chanel's 19M workshop, with Brigitte Macron and Chanel CEO Leena Nair watching.

The King and Queen also visited the central Paris Flower Market, named after her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The couple also visited Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris to view restoration works following a massive blaze in 2019 that destroyed its roof.