The Daily Telegraph

Perhaps the French aren’t so bad after all


Trust the late Queen to bring the best out in the French when it comes to Francobrit­ish relations. Queen Elizabeth spoke French, and as her former assistant private secretary Sam Cohen revealed in this newspaper earlier this week: “Her French was fluent, despite never having lived there or practised the language from one year to another.

“On a state visit in 2014, she declined a translator and was happy to converse with President Hollande about matters of state in French.”

The outpouring of grief for La Reine in the proudly republican country has been unpreceden­ted, with newspapers and magazines clearing their front pages to express national sorrow.

Summing up the emotions of a heartbroke­n nation, Le Parisien’s headline simply read: “Nous l’avons tant aimée” . We loved her so much.

President Emmanuel Macron’s tribute, meanwhile, was arguably the most moving of any foreign leader’s. “With her passing, we all feel an emptiness,” he said, speaking directly to the British in English.

“Her unwavering dignity made her the constant symbol of the United Kingdom,” he continued. “We are grateful for her deep affection for France. Elizabeth II mastered our language, loved our culture and touched our hearts.”

He concluded his heartfelt address by saying: “To you, she was your Queen. To us, she was ‘The Queen’. She will be with all of us forever.”

On Thursday, it was announced that the airport in Le Touquet-parisplage, a popular destinatio­n for British holidaymak­ers in northern France, is to be renamed after the late Queen.

People sometimes question the soft power punch of the Royal family – but the reaction of the French speaks to our former monarch being the best diplomat this country will ever know.

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