PARIS / LONDON (Reuters) – France will grant Britain the Bayeux Tapestry, an 11th-century treasure that tells the story of how William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, an official at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris said on Wednesday. . .
The announcement, one day before French President Emmanuel Macron visited Britain to talk with Prime Minister Theresa May, was greeted with enthusiasm in Britain, where the tapestry has a powerful historical resonance.
"This is huge, this is an extraordinary diplomatic effort by the president of France and a fantastic gesture of goodwill from one of our closest and closest allies," said legislator Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs committee .
"It's a fantastic opportunity for the British to see one of the fundamental works in our national history," he said during an interview on BBC radio.
The 70-meter long tapestry, whose precise origins are dark and has not left France in its known history of almost 950 years, is currently on display in the city of Bayeux, in the north-western French region of Normandy. .
The Elysee official said that the loan was agreed in principle, but that it would not be carried out for several years because it was necessary to work on the carpet to ensure that it was safe to move it.
"It's very symbolic for France and maybe even more for the United Kingdom," he said.
The invasion of England by Duke William of Normandy, better known as William the Conqueror, and his victory over the Anglo-Saxon King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, changed the course of England's history.
The Norman conquest transformed the language, laws, customs and architecture of England, and Queen Elizabeth is the 40th monarch in a royal line that traces its origin to William the Conqueror.
"EMMANUEL EL CONQUISTADOR"
There is no consensus on where the tapestry was made. Some researchers believe it was done in Kent, in the south of England, but many others have pointed out locations in France.
May is likely to accept the loan as a sign of the strong friendship between Paris and London, which like Britain's relations with other European nations is under pressure due to the imminent departure of the United Kingdom from the Union European
The Elysee official said the loan fit into Macron's strategy to revive European sovereignty and democracy, detailed in a speech in Athens last September during which he spoke about the importance of cultural and historical ties between the European nations.
"The president had insisted during his speech in Athens on a Europe of culture and the arts, and it is important to put this into practice with our British neighbors to symbolize the strength of our historical relationship," the official said.
The newspaper cartoonist Peter Brookes related Bayeux and Brexit in their offer in Wednesday's edition, which was drawn in the tapestry style.
He represented Macron as "Emmanuel the Conqueror" riding forward with a confident smile when May, brandishing a Brexit banner, received an arrow in the eye: the fate that happened to King Harold according to the tapestry.
The British Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson, was depicted slumped on a horse with two arrows on his butt.
Additional report by Jean-Baptiste Vey in Paris, written by Estelle Shirbon; edition of Guy Faulconbridge