Pushing the “Windsor brand” is Boris Johnson’s boldest post-Brexit strategy yet, says Marc Roche in Le Point. In October the PM will host business leaders at Windsor Castle, alongside the Queen, to discuss climate change before the UN summit in Glasgow. Johnson hasn’t forgotten Emmanuel Macron’s “lunge” for British business at a grandiose Palace of Versailles summit in 2018. Expect diplomatic revenge for that “affront to the Union Jack” – the French “can only dream” of the soft-power superweapon that is Elizabeth II.
The monarch has the enduring “legitimacy” to win new friends with a simple smile or gesture. Versailles is little more than a “mausoleum of a defunct monarchy”, but Windsor Castle usually “throngs” with visitors wowed by the “incredible” power of the English court, proof of Britain’s boundless capacity for institutional reinvention. Don’t forget that in 2011, two billion people tuned in to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton, “the daughter of two former British Airways employees”; 10 million of them were French. Queen Victoria, the “grandmother of Europe”, wouldn’t have been impressed by an uppity PM turning her home into “an international conference centre”. But the days when soft power meant marrying offspring to European dynasties are over. Business is king, and what better seat than Windsor Castle to prove little Britain still exerts influence and imagination “far beyond its size”?