BORDEAUX, France — After pageantry and politics in Paris, King Charles III concluded his three-day state visit to France with a trip down south to Bordeaux on Friday to focus on a more personal passion: the environment.
As the skies cleared after a morning downpour, Charles and Queen Camilla helped plant a loquat leaf oak tree, known for adaptability to a changeable climate, in the garden of Bordeaux City Hall.
The U.K. monarch will meet emergency workers affected by wildfires in the Bordeaux region last year and visit an experimental forest designed to monitor the impact of climate on urban woodlands.
Locals waved French and British flags, and some shouted “God Save The King,” as the royal couple greeted well-wishers outside Bordeaux’s town hall.
Charles and Camilla are also scheduled to visit a vineyard known for its sustainable approach to wine making, in a region where wine exports are a pillar of the economy. Severe drought last year forced Bordeaux’s earliest-ever harvest, and the region has long been working to adapt to climate change.
Friday’s events mark the third and final day of a state visit aimed at shoring up the alliance between Britain and France after years of disputes related to Brexit, migration and other issues. Charles’ warm words toward France have been met with a standing ovation in the Senate and even cheers of “Long Live the King!”, an uncommon phrase in a country that beheaded its last monarchs.
In Bordeaux, the royal couple joined a reception on a royal navy frigate to celebrate military ties between the countries.
The surrounding Aquitaine region — an English possession in the Middle Ages that English and French royalty fought over for centuries — is home to a large British community today, and the king and queen met with Britons running businesses in the region.
After flying in to Bordeaux from Paris, the king and queen will briefly switch to more environmentally friendly public transport, riding a pioneering electric tram to the main city square.
In an address to the French Senate on Thursday, Charles praised France and the United Kingdom’s “indispensable relationship” and its capacity to meet the world’s challenges, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and climate change. He called for a new ‘’entente for sustainability.”
He also spoke about his concern for the climate in his toast at an opulent state dinner in the Palace of Versailles on Wednesday evening.
The king’s comments came after U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he was watering down some of Britain’s climate commitments, including pushing back a ban on new gas and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.
For decades, Charles has been one of Britain’s most prominent environmental voices, blasting the ills of pollution and speaking out for the need to cut emissions and restore biodiversity. But the U.K. royal family long ago ceded political power to elected leaders. And now that he is the king, he is expected to stay out of government policy in accordance with the traditions of the U.K. constitutional monarchy.
Angela Charlton in Paris, and Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless in London, contributed to this report.
Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/king-charles-iii