British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms

PARIS (AP) — Prince William and his wife, Kate, were in Paris Friday to meet the French president and survivors of the 2015 extremist attacks, a trip that marked William’s first official visit to the city since his mother died there.

President Francois Hollande greeted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Friday afternoon in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace.

The meeting “continues the longstanding relationship between the Presidents of the French Republic and the royal family,” the British Embassy said in a written statement.

After the meeting, the couple was scheduled to meet with victims and first responders from the deadly 2015 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other Paris sites. They also plan to attend a France-Wales rugby match Saturday.

While the royal couple has visited France several times, it was William’s first official visit to Paris since his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a 1997 car accident.

The visit comes amid anxiety across Europe over Britain’s departure from the European Union. British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger by the end of the month the two-year process that would take Britain out of the EU.

Before Kate and William headed to France on Friday, the royal couple met the families of soldiers at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London, and presented shamrocks to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

The two-day visit doesn’t include any official memorial events for Diana. Near the tunnel under the Alma bridge, where the car accident took place, tourists paid tribute to her, leaving flowers and photos.

Nicolas Herrera, 20, a Colombian studying in Paris, thinks Diana continues to be an object of affection for people around the world because she was “different.”

“She was part of the royal family, part of people from the important world, but she was near the real people,” Herrera said. “She was more close to poor people.”

Nina Abboud, an American tourist from Missouri, said people still mention Diana as an example of leadership and generosity.

“So I think she definitely influenced and it was positive and has been for all these 20 years,” Abboud said. “You’ve never heard more about her.”

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