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CENTENARY OF THE ENTENTE CORDIALE

The Entente Cordiale is a diplomatic agreement the British and the French governments made at the beginning of the twentieth century, in 1904.

 

Nevertheless, the expression entente cordiale is even older and originally defined the good relationships which existed between Great Britain and France under Louis-Philippe (born in Paris in 1773, dead in Claremont, Great Britain, in 1850), king of the French from 1830 to 1848.

But let's come back to the best known Entente Cordiale, that of 1904 : that year, the United Kingdom was under Edward VII's reign as France was led by President Émile Loubet.

It was in London the agreement was signed, on April 8th, 1904, by the Ambassador of France, Paul Cambon, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord Lansdowne. This agreement marked the end of a long series of discords between England and France due to the colonies' settlings, especifically in Africa (Morocco,Egypt, Western Africa, Central Africa,  Afrique centrale, Madagascar, but also in some other parts : Siam, New Hebrides, Newfoundland).

This agreement symbolized the end of Franco-British rivalries and was to open the way to a close diplomatic and military cooperation long before World War I, called at that time the Great War. That is why the English and the French were allies during that war against the German. All the survivors who testified declared that only arms factories took advantage of that huge slaughter.

In 2004, the United Kingdom and France celebrated the centenary of the Entente Cordiale. As a conclusion , this little optimistic text found on the French Web : « A hundred years later, the Entente Cordiale turned into a rich and varied relationship. The celebrations of this centenary well expressed what the President of the French Republic and the British Prime Minister like to remember - what divides us is nothing compared to what unites us - and we do appreciate  celebrations are not limited to official travels and great demonstrations. ».

 

Two great realizations stemming from the Franco-British cooperation :

 

1 - The Concorde 2 - The Channel Tunnel

On November, 29th, 1962, two programmes of aeronautical research, begun at the end of the fifties combined : the British studies of De Havilland Comet and the French studies on the Super Caravelle project are going to combine to begin a common programme aiming at creating a supersonic airliner, that is to say able to reach the sound barrier. As early as 1969, the plane, baptised the Concorde, is successfully tested : it gets its airworthiness certificate on October, 10th, 1975. Only Air France and  British Airways companies will fly the Concorde, from 1975 to 2003. There were twenty different Concordes  : two prototype aircrafts, two pilot productions planes, sixteen other Concordes built afterwards and shared between British Airways and Air France. A crash happened in 2000 and a lack of profitability seem to have rushed the end of the business concern for "the Beautiful White Bird".

This old project (already considered as early as 1855 by a French engineer called Thomé de Gaumont) was begun in 1987. First, on January, 20th, 1986, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand chosed this project among others. On August, 13th, 1986, the Eurotunnel firm was created, co-firm founded on equal parts by France Manche and The Channel Tunnel Group. On July, 29th, 1987, François Mitterrand and Margaret Thatcher officially signed the Franco-British treaty, which allowed the realizaton of the "Chunnel". The building site began on December 1987. The first junction of French and British building sites in the middle of the Channel happened on December, 1st, 1990. The Channel Tunnel was inaugurated on May, 6th, 1994, more than ten years ago already ! This great European project concerning substructure was a dream which became real : it is dug under the sea at 75 meters depth and is more than 47 kilometers long, yet it only takes 35 minutes to high speed trains circulating in it to go from France to England ! 

Below, a commemorative coin of the Entente Cordiale

Below, several documents of that time

Poster of the Allies

 

Photography of  an enamelled plaque commemorating the British Empire participation to World War I

On this old postcard, a German officer says : " That Entente Cordiale is a rock ! I thought it was only paper !"

Two smart women bearing the colours of the Entente Cordiale
Albion or Britannia and Marianne shaking hands.

Below, English medals from World War I. In the right, the inter-Allied medal.

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