King Charles and Queen Camilla are on their first state visit to France, spending three days in Paris and Bordeaux. And no trip to the country’s capital would be complete without stopping at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.
The King and Queen arrived at the Paris cathedral this afternoon alongside President and Madame Macron to see how restoration work is progressing following the devastating April 2019 fire. Construction workers and craftspeople stopped to catch a glimpse of the royals as they met with firefighters who battled the blaze and those involved in rebuilding the historic building. After the royal and presidential couple posed outside the cathedral, they waved to workers lined up on the balcony of the building.
In his speech the evening before at the Palace of Versailles, Charles had spoken of being “utterly appalled” by the scenes of devastation when the fire broke out.
“Having been utterly appalled by the scenes of such devastation following the catastrophic fire four and a half years ago, my wife and I look forward to visiting that magnificent cathedral tomorrow, to see for ourselves how centuries-old crafts have been revived and passed onto apprentices who are helping to restore Notre Dame to its former glory,” the King told state banquet guests. “In this regard, we were both, my wife and myself, so deeply sorry to hear of the death of General Jean-Louis Georgelin, one of France’s great soldiers, who led the restoration work there in his inimitable and charismatic way. We pay tribute to all he achieved.”
The King also pointed out that U.K. craftsmanship was playing a role in the restoration. “As it happens, woodworkers offer an unexpected example of our modern bonds,” he said. “Marlin Hendry from the hills of Devon, and Mike Dennis, apprenticed in the valleys of South Wales, are—like many talented artisans—using traditional tools to fashion strong and beautiful new beams for the roof of Notre Dame from their workshop in Normandy.”
The foundation stone for Notre Dame was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163 and it is one of France’s most recognizable monuments. The fire began on the evening of April 15, 2019, starting in the attic and destroying the oak roof beams and supporting lead roof. More than 500 firefighters fought it, saving the rest of the cathedral. President Macron committed to rebuilding it and more than €800 million was pledged for reconstruction and renovation works within 24 hours of a global appeal. The works are on track to be completed by the end of 2024.
Earlier in the day, King Charles and Queen Camilla visited a Paris flower market named after Queen Elizabeth where they met local florists. The market was formally renamed during the Queen’s state visit in 2014.
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