London (CNN)French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to London on Thursday to mark the anniversary of a historic World War Two speech with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in the first major face-to-face meeting between two European leaders since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Macron meets Johnson, at a safe distance, for anniversary of de Gaulle's wartime speech
Due to the social distancing measures in place, Macron, a man known for his firm grip and tactile nature, was unable to shake hands with any of those he met, including the Prime Minister, Prince Charles, or his wife Camilla. This led to scenes of dignitaries bowing at one another from a distance, unusual for such an event as the visit of a foreign leader.
Their official reason for meeting was to mark the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's broadcast from London to an occupied France during the Second World War. The BBC radio address, known as L'Appel, was a key moment in the French resistance to Nazi occupation.
"The British monarchy became the refuge of the French Republic" when de Gaulle was exiled from France, and he was treated as "the legitimate Minister of France, the real ambassador of French values" by Winston Churchill, Macron said Thursday.
Nodding to the impact of de Gaulle's address, Macron said the UK had given France "its first weapon: a BBC microphone."