Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge arrive in Paris on Friday, hoping to light up the City of Light with their special charm, and maybe even soothe some of the wounded feelings from the bitter Brexit vote.
Their two-day visit might be slightly dimmer thanks to the absence of their cute kids — Prince George, who turns 4 in July, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 2 in May — but the usually glowing presence of the Duchess of Cambridge, 35, can be expected to make up for it.
This will be their first official visit as a couple to Paris, and Will's first official visit since his mother, the late Princess Diana, died there in a car crash in a traffic tunnel 20 years ago, on Aug. 31, 1997. She was 36.
The couple's first day will start early Friday with the annual St. Patrick's Day parade of the Irish Guards (Will, 34, is a colonel in the Guards) at their barracks in London. The colorful ceremony features Kate in a green coat, the distribution of shamrocks, lunch and the official petting of the Guards' mascot, a towering Irish wolfhound named Domhnall.
The couple heads for Paris later, where their first photo op will be a meeting with French President François Hollande at the Élysée Palace, according to a Kensington Palace announcement.
Their schedule includes other possibilities for striking photos, including a visit to Les Invalides (where Napoleon's impressive tomb is located), where they will meet victims and first responders from the Bataclan and Nice terrorist attacks, and to the Musée D'Orsay to see its unparalleled collection of French Impressionist paintings, some of which are headed to London later this year for an exhibit at the Tate Gallery.
Also on their schedule are the usual black-tie dinners and embassy receptions where they will meet young French leaders from the arts, sport, fashion, business and charities, as well as young military award winners, according to the palace. They also will attend the Wales vs France Six Nations rugby match at the Stade du France — Will's first match since he assumed patronage of the Welsh Rugby Union since Queen Elizabeth II stepped down as patron in December.
Now that politicians and voters are taking Britain out of the European Union trailing recriminations on both sides of the English Channel, the popular British royals are being sent to the Continent to help ensure relations remain relatively friendly. Besides Paris, Will and Kate are also scheduled to visit Poland and Germany in July.
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, are headed to Romania, Italy, the Vatican and Austria at the end of March for a week-long goodwill tour, which will include the couple's first meeting with Pope Francis.
Also, Charles, Will and younger son Prince Harry will travel to France on April 9 (Charles' and Camilla's 12th wedding anniversary) to attend the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the WWI Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canada's most notable military victory and a symbol of Canadian national pride.
(© 2017 USA TODAY)