Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron enjoyed a spectacular Red Arrows fly-past in central London today.
The French leader is visiting London to commemorate the 80th anniversary of his predecessor Charles de Gaulle’s BBC broadcast in 1940, in what is his first foreign visit since the Covid-19 outbreak.
Footage showed how the RAF squadron and their French counterparts, the Patrouille de France, left a trail of red, white and blue as they streaked across the skies of the capital.
Mr Macron was received by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, before a ceremonial event.
He bestowed France’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’Honneur, on London.
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Boris Johnson is set to discuss an easing of coronavirus quarantine measures when he holds talks with Emmanuel Macron in Downing Street on Thursday.
Mr Macron praised the support the fledgling forces of Free France received from the UK, especially their “first weapon, a BBC microphone” used by General Charles de Gaulle to give his historic address.
Mr Macron, speaking in French in the shadow of General de Gaulle’s statue in Carlton Gardens, in central London, where the Free French had their headquarters, said: “Yes, Britain gave shelter to France.
“This is where de Gaulle was able to form the first ranks of the French army which would go on fighting. The soldiers of London.
“This is where de Gaulle was able to call on the French people to join the resistance. The soldiers of the shadows.
“Because 80 years ago today, on June 18 1940, the United Kingdom gave Free France its first weapon, a BBC microphone.
“So the airwaves carried de Gaulle’s determined words and spirit of resistance, which built a bridge across the Channel for those refusing to be enslaved or give up their freedom.”
Behind the president was the framed insignia of France’s highest decoration,the Legion d’Honneur, awarded to London for its support of France during the Second World War.
Listening to the open-air address were French and British dignitaries including the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mr Macron had been welcomed to Britain for his brief visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who stood nearby.
Mr Macron paid tribute to London as the “cradle of Free France” and went on to say: “I wanted to express the French Republic’s infinite gratitude to the city of London by awarding it, in a wholly exceptional capacity, the cross of the Legion d’Honneur.”
It had been presented to Charles, who replied, in French and English: “Your presence here today, Mr President, is a powerful demonstration of the bond between our two countries, and between our people, and of our shared determination that it must endure.
“It is a bond forged through common experience, sanctified through shared sacrifice and burnished by the deep affection in which we hold each other.
“Time and again our countries have stood together against tyranny and oppression, joining arms to defend the values we hold most dear.”