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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Queen Elizabeth Makes a Royal Visit to France

PARIS -- To the uplifting strains of "La Marseillaise," Queen Elizabeth II marched down the famed Champs-Elysees in Paris on Monday to kick off a pomp-filled state visit celebrating a century of friendship between France and Britain.

The British monarch's three-day state visit coincides with the centennial of the Entente Cordiale, an agreement signed in London on April 8, 1904, that resolved colonial disputes and helped forge an English-French alliance that has stood the test of time.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, began their state visit on the Eurostar train under the English Channel, a strong symbol of French-British cooperation.

The royal couple unveiled a commemorative plaque and then boarded a train car that the queen christened "the Entente Cordiale."

The royal couple arrived at Paris' Gare du Nord station several hours later. The station was spruced up for the occasion and closed to the public because of security concerns.

Wearing a white suit and matching small-brimmed hat, the queen exited a dark-colored Bentley, then walked down the Champs-Elysees to inspect troops with President Jacques Chirac and his wife, Bernadette, at Place de la Concorde in central Paris.

A military band played the British and French national anthems, "God Save the Queen" and the "La Marseillaise."

The royal couple took part in a military ceremony on the Champs-Elysees later Monday, which was to be followed by dinner with Chirac at the presidential Elysees Palace.

Queen Elizabeth has made three other state visits to France and many other private or official trips.

After her marriage in 1947, she paid a formal visit to France and Greece with Prince Philip. She became queen in 1953.

Paris was decked out with Union Jacks and French tricolor flags hanging side-by-side on lampposts.

On the rue Montorgueil, a pedestrian market street where the queen is to stroll Tuesday, a chocolatier displayed a huge Easter egg with her likeness on it.

Queen Elizabeth, a devoted equestrian, will take in a show by an elite dressage team on Tuesday.

Also on the queen's program: a meeting with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a brief address in the Senate, a stop at a Louvre Museum gallery that will be devoted to British art, a dinner with the theme of cancer prevention and a visit the headquarters of European plane-building powerhouse Airbus in southern France.

The visit will attempt to bolster ties strained over the Iraq war.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was U.S. President George W. Bush's strongest backer for war plans, while Chirac was among Bush's most outspoken critics.

There have been other diplomatic tiffs: in 1984, for example, when late French President Francois Mitterrand visited Britain to commemorate the Entente Cordiale's 80th anniversary. One of Mitterrand's bodyguards planted explosives in the grounds of the French ambassador's residence to test British security.

Despite being separated by only 34 kilometers of water at the narrowest point, Britain and France sometimes seem separated by a much wider gulf of misunderstanding and mutual distrust.

The London-based Guardian newspaper and France's Liberation collaborated on Monday's issue and published a poll about how the countries view each other.

Some 52 percent of Britons called the French arrogant, while 55 percent found them sexy. For the French, 42 percent say Britons are arrogant -- and a mere 16 percent found them sexy.

The Guardian ran a cartoon with a man and woman standing on a cliff next to a sign that read: "Best view of France from here."