For her first trip abroad, from May 14 to 17, 1948, three years after the end of World War II, Princess Elizabeth, 22, chose France and Paris. The future Queen of England, pregnant with her son Charles, is accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9, 2021, to whom she has been married since November 20, 1947. “She’s a very pretty woman with her husband, from the Navy, a handsome man, so they’re a very ‘glamorous’ couple after all”, British journalist Philip Turle told “1:15 p.m. Sunday” magazine (replay). They first go to the Elysee Palace where the President of the Republic René Coty (1947-1954) awaits them.
“She’s not queen yet [son couronnement a lieu le 2 juin 1953], therefore, it is not known to the French public, he specifies. You might think of her a bit like an American star in Hollywood… A young and pretty girl, but who doesn’t really have much of an interest in the end. “ Isabelle Rivière, author of the biography Elizabeth II, in the privacy of reign (ed. Fayard), adds: “She has not yet proven herself. She is still … I was going to say … a beginner in the trade. Nobody really knows her, at least in France, where nobody has ever heard the sound of her. voice.”
“Lhe start of a great love story “
To everyone’s surprise, the young princess addresses her audience in perfect French, almost without an accent: “Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we must be able to pool the gifts and virtues which are our most cherished heritage. France and Britain must take the lead in this movement, for wealth is incomparable when measured in idea, wisdom and experience. “ For Philip Turle,“the French say to themselves: ‘But this woman is very well, she is very beautiful and in addition she speaks French’.”
Biographer Isabelle Rivière specifies: “Her mother had insisted very early on that her daughter learn Molière’s language and speak it fluently. She is the heir to the long tradition of Francophilia of the reigning family. And we will quickly realize that this young woman is actually a statesman. “ The princess continues her speech: “I cannot tell you how happy I am today to find myself among you at last.” The French seem to be seduced and, for the British journalist, “this 1948 visit marks the start of a great love story”.
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