|All photos: SIP
Last night, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess arrived in Paris via train to have an early start into a jam-packed first day of their state visit to France. The royal couple are accompanied on the three-day visit by nine of Luxembourg's cabinet ministers and more than 200 officials, including the largest business delegation on a state visit in history. It is the first Luxembourgish state visit to France in 40 years as the last one occured in 1978.
The state visit to France began with a welcoming ceremony at the Hôtel des Invalides, one of Paris' most prominent buildings, for Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. They were greeted by the Secretary of State for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau and the Military Governor of Paris Bruno Le Ray. After the interpretation of the national anthems, Monsieur le Grand-Duc reviewed the guard of honor composed of the four forces - the Republican Guard, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force - in the courtyard of the castle. This was followed by the presentation of the Luxembourg delegation.
Next up on the agenda was the official welcome at the Élysée Palace - and the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess sure travelled there in style accompanied by an escort of 140 horses and 28 motorcyclists. On the steps of the Élysée Palace, the couple was greeted by the President of France Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte with some time for a one-on-one meeting afterwards.
Subsequently, an official luncheon for the economic delegation was held in the presence of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa at the Hôtel Shangri-La. The couple was also present for an economic forum entitled "France-Luxembourg: More than neighbors!" and saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
At the end of the afternoon, the official delegation went to the Hôtel de Lassay, the residence of the Speaker of the National Assembly, François de Rugy. After another round of military honours, the Grand Ducal Couple was welcomed by François de Rugy for a talk in the presence of Minister Jean Asselborn.
Right now, a gala dinner is being hosted for the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess by the French President - but that's the story for another post.