The King and Queen have arrived in France to a guard of honour as they begin a three-day state visit to the country.
The royal couple are visiting Paris and Bordeaux six months after the trip had to be rescheduled because of widespread rioting across the country.
The King and Queen were greeted by the French prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, and other diplomats after they arrived at Paris’s Orly airport on Wednesday afternoon.
An officer and 20 guardsmen of the Republican Guard, which is part of the French National Gendarmerie, were lined up to greet them.
French President Emmanuel Macron issued a poignant welcome ahead of the King’s arrival, writing on social media: “You visited as a Prince, you return as a King. Your Majesty, welcome.”
The King and Queen met up with Mr Macron, 45, and his wife Brigitte, 70, for a ceremony of remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe, in the capital’s centre.
As part of the ceremony, King Charles was invited by the president to symbolically light the monument’s eternal flame which burns in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars.
Afterwards, the foursome were due to process down the Champs Elysees by car towards the Elysee Palace, the president’s official residence, where the King and Mr Macron are sitting down for talks.
In the evening, the King and Queen will be guests of honour at a grand black-tie state banquet hosted by Mr and Mrs Macron in the Palace of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors.
Both the King and Mr Macron will address the 160 guests, who will include high-profile figures chosen for their contribution to UK-France relations.
The majority of the original royal programme has been retained but a few new elements have been added, including the Queen and Mrs Macron launching a new Franco-British literary prize at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
The King will become the first British monarch to give a speech from France’s senate chamber to senators and national assembly members on Thursday.
Other highlights include the royal couple meeting sports stars as France hosts the Rugby World Cup.
When the couple travel to Bordeaux, home to 39,000 Britons, they will meet UK and French military personnel to hear about how the two nations are collaborating on defence.
The King and Queen’s planned tour in March was to be their first state visit, but it was postponed at the last minute after violent nationwide demonstrations.
Bordeaux’s town hall was set on fire by protesters just a few days before the trip was due to begin.
Germany – the second leg of the overseas tour – became the historic first state visit destination for the royal couple instead.
Rishi Sunak will use talks with President Emmanuel Macron to push for a returns agreement allowing migrants to be sent back to France after crossing the English Channel.
The prime minister is set to meet the French president in Paris on Friday where he will prioritise discussing his “stop the boats” plan.
Downing Street wants a bilateral agreement that would allow the UK to immediately return people arriving illegally in southern England to France.
The meeting is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough on such an accord, with British ministers and diplomats instead privately aiming to cajole Mr Macron’s administration into being a driving force behind an EU-wide returns agreement with London.
Labour said Mr Sunak will have “failed” if he comes back to the UK without a deal.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “We need a new agreement with France.
“Rishi Sunak will have failed if he comes back from the summit without a new returns agreement and new joint arrangements to prevent dangerous boat crossings.”
The talks between the leaders come days after Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who will also meet with her counterpart in the French capital on Friday, unveiled the controversial Illegal Migration Bill.
The legislation announced on Tuesday would see asylum seekers who arrive through unauthorised means detained, deported and hit with a lifetime ban from returning.
Charities, the EU and human rights groups have argued the proposals aren’t legal while questions have also swirled about how they will work in practice.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
UN: ‘A sad day for refugee rights’
Under the UN Refugee Convention, people escaping war or persecution cannot be forced to return there.
The government also can’t return people or send them to a ‘third’ country – like Rwanda – unless they have agreed to take them.
Downing Street stressed that the gathering at the Elysee Palace “isn’t a summit on a single issue”, with energy security, the conflict in Ukraine and the “challenge posed by China” likely to be touched upon.
But the prime minister’s official spokesman confirmed Mr Sunak will look to raise his ambitions of working more closely on the issue of Channel crossings.
During a visit to Dover earlier this week he told reporters: “Certainly we are going in there with an ambition to go further on stopping the boats making these dangerous crossings.”
And in a briefing on Wednesday before the talks, he added: “I think these are important discussions that should deepen our work with our French counterparts on stopping the boats.
“It will build on the expansion we already saw the prime minister announce in his first few weeks [in office].
“We want a EU-UK returns agreement and will push that forward.”
PM ‘could green-light new deal’ on patrols
There is already a multimillion-pound agreement in place with France designed to help prevent crossings and target human trafficking gangs.
A revised deal announced in November was worth around £63 million, representing a hike of about £8m from a similar pledge signed in 2021.
Under the commitment, the number of French officers patrolling beaches on the country’s northern coastline rose from 200 to 300, while British officers for the first time were also permitted to be stationed in French control rooms and on the approaches to beaches to observe operations.
Nearly 3,000 people have arrived via small boats in the UK already this year but it is understood that France has successfully prevented around the same number from embarking on the journey.
Reports suggest that Mr Sunak is ready to green-light a deal that would secure a multi-year migration agreement with Paris which would include Britain paying millions of pounds to France every year for extra officers on the lookout on French beaches.
But French sources told The Independent Mr Macron is likely to reject calls for a returns agreement, after the UK disregarded his call to establish more safe and legal routes.
While the government has schemes in place for a limited number of Afghans, Ukrainians and people from Hong Kong, critics point out there is no legal route for asylum seekers from many other dangerous parts of the world.
Sylvie Bermann, a former French Ambassador to the UK, damped down the prospect of a returns agreement, telling Sky News: “We have twice as many asylum seekers than the UK so we take our part, I don’t think we’d be ready to take those people back.
“We are doing our best to prevent them crossing the Channel but I am not sure we will take them back.”
Read more: EU warns immigration bill violates international law Do refugees have a ‘safe and legal’ route to the UK?
‘Beautiful renewed friendship’
The summit – a once regular event in the political calendar that has been revived by Mr Sunak after a five-year hiatus – is being viewed as a thawing in cross-Channel relations.
Tensions festered between London and Paris during Boris Johnson’s premiership, with Brexit causing frictions and sparking disputes over fishing grounds and trade.
During Liz Truss’s brief time as prime minister, she said the “jury is out” on whether Mr Macron was Britain’s friend.
But Mr Macron has been seen to be on more cordial terms with Mr Sunak than the prime minister’s predecessors, with Paris sources reportedly briefing that the summit should be seen as the “beginning of a beautiful renewed friendship”.
The PM is set to be joined in France by members of his cabinet, with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also travelling, along with Ms Braverman.
The King will make his first overseas visits as monarch to France and Germany at the end of March.
Buckingham Palace has confirmed the King and Queen Consort will travel to Paris before visiting Berlin and Hamburg on their six-day trip starting on 26 March.
The King will address the Bundestag in Berlin, making him the first British monarch to make a speech in the German parliament.
The Queen Consort and King will be hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The choice of European countries for the King’s first state visits is significant and has likely been organised to help restore frayed relations since Brexit.
It’s been confirmed that the pair will attend a state banquet at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Queen’s astonishing example
Mr Macron spoke of the Queen’s affection for France when he attended her state funeral in September.
The Queen made many trips to France throughout her reign. Her first was in 1957, four years after her coronation. Her last state visit was in June 2014, when she visited Paris and Normandy with the Duke of Edinburgh.
The couple attended events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
In 60 years, the Queen undertook 261 official overseas visits, including 78 state visits, to 116 different countries.
The Queen was warmly regarded in Germany, which she visited on a number of occasions. Perhaps most famously in 1965, a state visit which many considered a watershed moment in British-German reconciliations after the Second World War.
Her last trip to Germany was in 2015 when she visited the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.
Read more: King’s message to Ukrainians 12 new pieces of music for coronation
Widely expected trip follows controversy
The King’s upcoming state visits had been widely reported in both France and Germany, but have only now been confirmed by Buckingham Palace.
The news comes just days after the King met the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at Windsor Castle.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
PM ‘naïve’ to involve the King
The meeting, which took place hours after a new Brexit deal on Northern Ireland was agreed, caused some controversy. Critics said it was constitutionally ill-judged and placed the King too close to politics.
Kyle Walker has said he won’t “roll out the red carpet” for Kylian Mbappe during England’s clash with France.
The Three Lions defender looks set to be faced with containing the Paris Saint-Germain superstar during Saturday’s quarter-final.
Mbappe has scored five goals and leads the race for the golden boot in Qatar with many speculating how England will try to hold him off.
Walker, a Manchester City right-back, has said he is ready for the challenge and told a press conference: “We respect that he is a good player in good form, but I am not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to go and score.
“I’m representing my country at the quarter-final of a World Cup, it’s do or die really. If we lose, we go home. He’s not going to stand in my way of hopefully winning a World Cup for my country.”
“I do understand what I need to do and that is to stop him,” he added.
“It’s probably easier said than done, but I don’t underestimate myself. I have played against a lot of great players at Man City and England.
“I have to treat it as another game, I have to take extra care and give him the respect he deserves, but not too much respect because he’s also playing England and we can cause them problems.”
Walker has come up against Mbappe four times in the Champions League and has earned plaudits for how he has previously dealt with the French forward.
“Obviously it is always going to help because I’ve played against him a number of times now with Manchester City,” added Walker.
“He is a fantastic player in great form. It is not going to be an easy task, but as a professional footballer you want to play against the best and I think he is one of the best if not the best in the world at the moment.”
Further up the pitch, concern has been raised regarding England’s midfield after Declan Rice missed training through illness.
The West Ham midfielder wasn’t present for training with the rest of squad on Wednesday, just three days ahead of the clash with France.
Other players who missed training include striker Callum Wilson, who has yet to return to training after picking up a muscle problem following the last-16 win over Senegal, Raheem Sterling, who returned to the UK after intruders broke into his home, and Ben White, who left Qatar for personal reasons last week.
England cruised past Senegal 3-0 in their first World Cup knockout match, with a mouth-watering clash against holders France awaiting them in the last eight.
Two quick-fire goals – the first from Jordan Henderson, the second from Harry Kane – put Gareth Southgate’s side in control going into the half-time break, after what had been a nervy start at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar.
Follow live reaction to England’s impressive win
Senegal, the African Cup of Nations champions, had chances to open the scoring and forced a fine save from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford before his namesake Henderson struck in the 38th minute.
But the second half was far more comfortable for the Three Lions, and Arsenal’s young star Bukayo Saka scored his third goal of the tournament in the 57th minute to rubber-stamp the victory.
Kane’s goal in first-half added time means he has now scored 11 goals at major tournaments, seven in the World Cup and four in the Euros, overtaking Gary Lineker as England’s all-time top scorer in major tournaments.
England face the toughest test they could ask for in the next round, after record-setting goals from French strikers Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe helped the 2018 winners see off Poland in the earlier Sunday game.
Young Lions roar in impressive victory
Playing in their first knockout match on the world stage since the painful extra-time 2018 semi-final loss to Croatia, Southgate’s men showed both quality and growing maturity to progress.
But while it was Henderson and Kane who got the goals that helped England neuter an impressive Senegalese start, youngsters Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden shone brightest under the floodlights.
The former, aged just 19, added to his growing reputation with a superb performance and laid on the assist for his midfield partner Henderson.
Bellingham also led a brilliant breakaway for Kane’s fine goal, before Manchester City star Foden, 22, played in the skipper to slam home.
And Saka, himself just 21, repaid the manager’s faith in starting him over Marcus Rashford by clipping the ball past Edouard Mendy to kill off the contest.
England were in cruise control from that point, and Southgate rung the changes with progress assured to consecutive World Cup quarter-finals – something the national team last managed in 2002 and 2006.
Kane: We feel good about how we’re playing
Spurs star Kane hailed a “really good day” for the Three Lions, telling ITV his team had shown “great maturity”.
“It was really tough, knockout games are never easy,” he said.
“I think we’ve showed great maturity through the tournament, and 3-0 against a really good side, credit to the boys, the mentality was top from the beginning, and we took our chances when they came.
“We feel good, we’ve got good runners, good players getting forward, and it’s solid at the back, three clean sheets in a row is really important. A really good day for us.”
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
England fans celebrate trio of goals
England’s goals were greeted by raucous scenes not just in the stadium, but across the country back home.
Fans will now be able to enjoy the week ahead before the game against France on Saturday, again at 7pm UK time.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman will travel to Paris to sign a new joint declaration with French officials to ramp up efforts to stop migrant crossings in the Channel.
The home secretary will sign the agreement with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday morning.
According to the Financial Times, the agreement will significantly increase the 200 French officers and volunteers who operate on Channel beaches and encourage France to aim for a higher proportion of migrants prevented from leaving.
It will also include a rise in payments from London to Paris and a closer relationship between the two countries’ border policing teams, the newspaper reported.
Read more: Traffickers turn to new and more dangerous ways to smuggle people across the Channel
The UK and France have been in talks for several months over the renewal of longstanding arrangements to police the Channel.
The Financial Times reports that the annual amount the UK pays to France is expected to increase to €72m (£63m) in 2022 to 2023, from €62.7m (£54.8m) for 2021 to 2022.
The UK government has sent a total of €200m (£174.8m) to Paris to police the border since 2018, while France spends around €250m (£218.6m) every year dealing with all matters related to the British border.
French officials said the number of officers patrolling to stop small boat crossings will increase from 200 to 300 by mid-2023 under the new agreement, the newspaper reported, with the UK covering additional monitoring costs.
It added that the deal also plans for a French operations centre to be reinforced, while British border force officers will be present as observers for the first time, all while respecting France’s sovereignty.
On Friday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and his French counterpart Catherine Colonna issued a statement stressing the “urgency of tackling all forms of illegal migration”.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Migrants seen getting on dinghy in Calais
40,000 cross into UK
So far this year, around 40,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats, up from 28,526 last year, putting pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
A total of 972 people made the crossing in 22 boats on Saturday, bringing the total to have made the journey so far in 2022 to 40,885.
Border Force officials were seen bringing groups of people to shore at Dover on Saturday, marking the first arrivals this month following a spell of bad weather.
The past few years have seen a sharp increase in the number of people reaching the UK in small boats from France.
Some 299 were detected in 2018, followed by 1,843 in 2019 and 8,466 in 2020, official figures show.
Meanwhile, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta have complained they were forced to bear the brunt of migrants crossing the Mediterranean and called for changes in European Union policy.
The four southern European states said in a joint statement that responsibility should be shared more widely across the bloc when it comes to sheltering people rescued by charity boats.
Thousands to be vaccinated at Manston migrant centre
In the UK, health authorities have said thousands of migrants passing through the Manston processing centre will be vaccinated against diphtheria after dozens of cases of the highly contagious disease were confirmed in England.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it is working with the Home Office to vaccinate migrants at the centre after it was revealed on Friday that 39 diphtheria cases had been identified in asylum seekers in England in 2022 as of 10 November.
The UKHSA warned accommodation settings should be considered “high-risk for infectious diseases”.
The agency said in many cases the illness had been contracted abroad and carried to the UK and it stressed the need for action to “minimise the risk of further transmission”.
A British kayaker wearing only swimming trunks has been found clinging to a buoy in the middle of the English Channel after his inflatable kayak capsized.
The man, who was wearing only swimming trunks, claims to have set out from Dover heading for France.
He was found by a Dutch fishing crew, clinging to a buoy halfway been England and France, where he had apparently been for about 48 hours.
The unnamed castaway was hauled to safety by the crew of De Madelaine after being spotted by the captain, Teunis de Boer, as they were sailing between England and France, according to De Telegraaf.
Mr De Boer noticed him “waving like a madman” after a “disappointing” morning’s fishing.
The crew immediately threw the man a lifebuoy and hauled him aboard.
According to a Facebook post by de Boer, the man had severe hypothermia – his temperature was 26C – dehydration and was covered in bruises. He said that it was a miracle he was alive.
Once he was on board they wrapped him in blankets and gave him a Snickers bar.
The crew contacted the French coastguard, who sent a helicopter which took the man to hospital in Boulogne.
The French coastguard told Sky News: “This morning, very early in the morning, a fishing vessel reported that a man in his thirties seemed to have taken refuge on the Colbart Nord buoy, located in the middle of the traffic of Pas de Calais. The fishing vessel rescued the shipwrecked person and picked him up on board. This man had left the British coast about 48 hours earlier, to try to cross the Channel on an inflatable kayak. The castaway is conscious, but his state of health requires rapid treatment.”
The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and crossings in small boats are particularly perilous.
The number of migrants crossing the Channel in July was the highest monthly of the year so far, with 3,683 making the journey in 90 boats, according to government figures.
The new total – the highest of any month in 2022 – comes amid reports Home Secretary Priti Patel will sign another multi-million pound deal with France to try to reduce the numbers.
According to the Times, the money will go towards more beach patrols and surveillance equipment, and be in addition to millions already paid to the country.
Politics Hub: Poll boost for Sunak as Truss gets more cabinet backers
It also comes a month after new laws increasing the maximum penalty for those illegally entering the UK to four years in prison, and life in prison for those piloting the boats.
The government announced its plan to send migrants who arrive illegally in the UK to Rwanda just three months ago, saying it would deter people from making the Channel crossings.
But the first flight to the country was cancelled after a last minute order from the European Court of Human Rights, and 11,131 migrants have arrived in the UK since.
More on Migrant Crossings
Ms Patel has continued to stand by the plan, saying the government would “not be deterred from doing the right thing [and] we will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges”.
And both candidates for the Tory leadership, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, have committed to the scheme.
But opposition parties and charities – reportedly even Prince Charles – have claimed the policy is inhumane.
Last month, court documents revealed Ms Patel was warned against pursuing the scheme, with the UK’s High Commissioner to Rwanda saying the country “has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries”.